Adults under the age of 35 in the United Kingdom spend £750 a year on dental treatment, or more than three times the national average, according to the Oral Health Foundation (OHF). Also, these adults are investing around four times more in oral health treatment than their parents and nearly eight times than their grandparents.
The OHF collected the data as part of National Smile Month, which aims to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. According to the OHF, the gulf in spending highlights the growing popularity of cosmetic dentistry and how the smile is now linked to beauty as much as it is to health.
“We would all expect to invest a little money in our oral health when visiting the dentist, whether it is for a regular checkup, scale and polish, or minor treatment,” said Dr. Nigel Carter, OBE, OHF chief executive.
“Younger adults generally experience less oral health problems than their older peers. Common conditions like tooth decay, tooth loss, and receding gums are associated with age and result in more expensive treatments,” Carter said.
“This means the more a young person spends on their oral health, the more likely it is that the work is purely cosmetic and not treating a clinical problem,” he said.
Also, 53% of adults under the age of 35 have had cosmetic dental treatment in the United Kingdom, compared to 9% of those over the age of 35. Tooth whitening is the most popular cosmetic treatment, with 42% of those under the age of 35 receiving it. Plus, 48% of young adults plan to have their teeth whitened in the next year.
“Caring for our teeth and gums has always been about maintaining good health, but the aesthetics of a smile are becoming increasingly important. How our smile looks might only have an impact on our mental well-being, but it can shape our confidence and social happiness too,” Carter said.
As part of National Smile Month, Philips Sonicare and the OHF are using #Habits4Life to encourage everyone that a white smile also needs to be healthy.
“Cosmetic dentistry can help us achieve a more aesthetically pleasing smile, but it is key that we continue to invest in our oral health in other ways,” said Jenny Payne, a professional relations manager at Philips Sonicare and registered dental hygienist and therapist.
“First and foremost, the mouth must by healthy, and this can be done largely at home. Brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, daily interdental cleaning, and daily mouthwash is all that is needed,” said Payne.
“By spending five minutes a day caring for our mouth, we can make sure it remains fit, healthy, and clear of disease,” Payne said. “These are just a few simple habits we can adopt so that our smile is given care it deserves.”