Cosmetic and General Dentistry
Trends in general and cosmetic dentistry include emotional dentistry, teledentistry, dental implants, and clinic membership programs. A deep dive into these trends is located below.
General Dental Consumer Trends
- It is becoming more necessary for dentists to add "emotional dentistry" to their services. Emotional dentistry focuses on easing patients' fears when it comes to the actual procedure, as well as what their smile will look like after the work is actually done.
- One study by the World Health Organization showed that as many as 20% of Americans suffer from Odontophobia, or fear of going to the dentist that is extremely profound. The sheer number of people that require additional care just to help them feel comfortable enough to even go to the dentist is driving the need for emotional dentistry.
- Another study showed that up to 75% of adults have a mild fear of the dentists that, while not severe enough to be classified as a phobia, may still cause them to avoid or postpone dental care.
- Audiovisual devices or even virtual reality devices are being used by some dentists to help clients feel more comfortable during procedures.
- Dentists are also using tools such as digital examples of what the patient's smile will look like after different procedures are done, which helps patients feel more comfortable making decisions after seeing the potential final result.
Mobile Phones and Texting
- More people prefer the convenience of scheduling appointments and filling out necessary paperwork online before a dental visit, especially via mobile app or a mobile website.
- Texting and push notifications are becoming more necessary in the dental industry as texting is now considered the most popular and most personal way to communicate with clients.
- One study showed that texting patients increased the open and response rate by up to 98%, making texting necessary to ensure the best communication.
- Texting is also overcoming emails, which were previously used often in dentistry to contact patients. One survey showed that 82% of patients open a text message in less than five minutes, compared to only 25% of emails.
- Another study showed that 86% of consumers choose to opt in to receiving text messages from businesses and medical practices.
- Telemedicine is extending into dentistry, allowing consumers to provide their dentist with photos and videos from home and receive a professional opinion on what kind of care they might need. This eliminates the need for many consultations and even allows patients with no apparent issues to continue doing preventative care without visiting the dentist right away.
- This trend is being driven by new companies such as Smile Direct Club, which combine teledentistry with at-home orthodontics equipment that is used in place of traditional braces.
- Teledentistry is being utilized more often in rural areas where access to dental clinics is limited, and in senior care facilities where it is harder for patients to physically get to a dental clinic.
- One study showed that 46% of dental patients were interested in using teledentistry.
- More dental offices are offering 3D printing services in-house to provide things like molds and aligners. This saves the consumer money by not requiring the use of expensive outsourced labs, as well as time by eliminating the need for shipping.
- 3D printing in dentistry is growing rapidly, with the global dental 3D printing market expected to grow at a CAGR of 27.51% to reach $9.86 billion by 2025.
- The demand for 3D printing is being driven, in large part, by an increase in the number of incidences of dental caries.
- This technology is also making it easier for patients to switch between dentists, or allow dentists to consult with other professionals, because they can transfer the 3D images of their mouth and dental issues easily from one party to another.
Natural Dental Products
- Though natural dental products have been commercially available to consumers for a while, dentists are starting to offer chemical-free products in their clinics to entice clients that are more conscious of what they are putting into an on their bodies.
- This trend is being driven by an increase in consumers' need to buy natural products. One example is a survey that showed 33% of respondents prioritized buying only natural toothpaste.
- Studies show that Millennials are more likely to view natural products as important in their dental care.
- Because of this, dentists are starting to market the use of natural products in their clinics in order to retain this subset of clients.
Cosmetic Dentistry Trends
At-Home Cosmetic Treatments
- The use of cosmetic dental treatments that can either be done totally at-home, or partially at-home is becoming much more popular.
- Some examples include at-home whitening that is created by dental clinics or at-home aligners to help straighten teeth.
- The trend in these type of cosmetic treatments is being driven by lower costs and a more flexible treatment plan that allows people to pursue cosmetic dentistry without having to find the time to constantly go in to a clinic.
- At-home teeth whitening that is provided by dental clinics are becoming more popular because dentists can offer whitening solutions that are stronger and longer-lasting than those at the store.
- One survey showed that 26% of people agree and an additional 7% "strongly agree" that professional teeth whitening can be substituted with at-home teeth whitening.
- While implants have been around for a while, they have been historically more popular for older patients who lose teeth. Today, they are being used more often as a cosmetic option to enhance a person's smile.
- The prevalence of dental implants has grown to over 5.7%, which is a large increase from the 0.7% that it was in 2000.
- They are becoming more popular in the cosmetic dental industry because they do not require already straight teeth like veneers do, which means people don't have to pay for and take the time to get braces before starting their cosmetic treatment.
- Implants are also more popular among those looking for cosmetic changes because new technology has created more realistic-looking implants.
- Dental implants are becoming more popular than crowns because crowns only successfully last more than ten years 50% of the time, while dental implants last more than ten years 98% of the time.
- It is also becoming easier for people to get cosmetic dental implants without going to a higher-priced specialized. Around 33% of dental implants are now placed by general dentists.
Dental Payment Trends
Alternative Payment Options
- More dental clinics are offering alternative payment options such as payment plans, discounts, and incentives. Clinics are offering these to help patients' without insurance afford dental care which, in turn, allows clinics to stay afloat.
- Dental discount plans, offered by places like CVS and Humana, are used by about 5% of dental patients to save money on upfront costs.
- Alternative payment models are being used by clinics and patients more often because they cost the clinic less than traditional payment options, so there is more incentive for clinics to offer them.
- This trend is also being driven by a sheer number of patients that are not able to pay. One survey showed that 88% of dental clinics were worried about their clients' ability to pay for services.
Clinic Membership Programs and Member Plans
- Many dental clinics are starting to offer member programs or plans where clients pay a set amount for a plan that includes specific things, such as a set amount of x-rays and cleanings per year.
- Member programs are becoming more popular because people who don't have health insurance want to have a set plan in place so they know that they are able to get the basic care they need.
- Insurance restrictions are also driving the membership plan trend. Many dental plans have restrictions on the type or quantity of services that will be covered, so people are starting to look to membership plans instead, where they can receive more services for a lower fee.
- There are many third-party services that have cropped up to offer pre-planned membership programs for dental clinics to reduce their workload and increase marketing. This is driving more clinics to offer membership programs.
- Some examples of these companies include Kleer, DentalHQ, and Illumitrac.