Is Cosmetic Dentistry an Industry or an Art?

Everyone Loses if Health and Aesthetics Are at Odds

Last week’s editorial, Is Cosmetic Dentistry Dying?, stirred several comments, both insightful and controversial, about the future of cosmetic dentistry. (I’ve added highlighting.)

Are dentists losing control of cosmetics?

“I’m not at all surprised that cosmetic dentistry is on the decline. In fact, I’ve been saying this for at least 3-4 years. The manner in which dentistry embraced the need for everyone to have white, straight teeth as a life-changing necessity reminded me of the economic bubbles which have lead to catastrophic financial decline. Tooth whitening booths staffed by non-professionals seem to be legal and now abound in shopping malls, advertising their services with statements like ‘Why pay dentists hundreds of dollars when…’ Will prep-free veneers be the next service available over-the-counter?”

Larry Barsh, DMD

Is it our own fault for being short-sighted?

“The trend is really not that surprising. Part of the problem is that dentists began to advertise and market towards cosmetic procedures and treated these issues prior to getting the patient healthy. This of course goes back to the opposing views between being in health care (as dentistry should be viewed by both patients and providers) versus being a business in which the bottom line is profit. Since cosmetic treatments are generally not covered by insurance, and are usually financially rewarding, many of our colleagues lost sight of our basic requirement (to get the mouth healthy) and performed treatment modalities the patient desired. Some of these treatments have failed because of the short sightedness of the doctor and now add in the financial disarray of the country and the declining trend is obvious. People are now trying to get by with the minimum.

Lawrence Bartos

So what does it mean?

I see at least three themes here: (1) the economics of dentistry; (2) dentistry’s obligation to health care; and (3) consumer demand. The trade-offs of the first two can be argued to infinity. But these arguments all get thrown to the wayside in light of “Consumer Demand.”

Last week’s graph is characteristic of consumer demand.

Cosmetic dentistry web trends

We have to remember that Cosmetic Dentistry has become an industry. Just count up the number of “Cosmetic Gurus” on the speaking circuit, the Cosmetic Institutes, and the number of Cosmetic Materials and Equipment suppliers. All of these groups have a major economic investment in beating the drum and growing the industry.

Even more important are the tens of thousands of dentists who have invested their hard-earned time and money in this industry. Cosmetics allow dentists to express themselves as artists. “Art” is an emotion. And I believe that it is this artistic emotion that has driven the Cosmetic Dental Industry to this point.

The real question, which we will explore next week, is centered on the “Demand” side of the equation. Is the market for cosmetic dentistry dying in face of the lack of consumer demand?

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About Jim Du Molin

+Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.

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