From needs must to viral beauty routines, what’s going on in oral beauty?

by | Aug 1, 2023

Oral and dental care have long been viewed as a needs must. Brush twice a day, floss once a day, routine checkups twice a year.

However, as Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer: Beauty Survey reveals, we are now all placing greater focus on oral health. Here’s our deep dive into why…

With tech and DTC brands exploding on social media, dental health rituals and aesthetics are dripping in the viral-factor, and thus becoming a solid staple in the average beauty routine. All the while dental brands are borrowing ingredients, formulations and functionality from their wider beauty industry peers. 

But is it all a faddy phase or is it firmly here to stay? 13 years ago, Executive Director & CEO of London Smiling Dental Group, British Beauty Council Advisory Board member, and all-round dental industry authority, Dr Uchenna Okoye told the Evening Standard: ‘When people talk about dentistry, they’re thinking about fillings and gum disease’. Whereas a sparkling smile ‘[is] aspirational, a sign of grooming.’

So, what’s changed? We spoke with her to explore the evolution of oral beauty and the road that lies ahead. 

With the rise of TikTok dental influencers like @dentite313 and @drzmackie providing daily doses of dental education, NHS dental checkup waits only increasing, and the recent emergence of ‘the Zoom effect’, we are all hyper-aware of our teeth. Here’s what this means for the market: 

Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy

Dr Okoye reports that, as audiences become more empowered than ever before to monitor their health, the same level of scrutiny is being placed on oral health offerings.

As a result, launches are mirroring skincare advancements. Take the emergence of teeth strip masks that dissolve to safely brighten teeth, products specifically designed for gum health like gum gel to interdental picks, and toothpaste brands that aren’t relying on traditional SLS- and fluoride heavy-formulas, as only some examples.

But, we shouldn’t just be looking for ingredients that benefit the teeth, ‘what is good for the teeth might not necessarily work for the mucosa and soft tissues in the mouth like the gums,’ explains Dr Okoye. Luckily, new formulations are serving the wider health of the whole mouth, veering away from ‘SLS traditionally found in toothpaste or alcohol in mouthwashes [owing to their] negative effect on the mucosa and their potential to cause ulcers, irritation and soreness.’

Okoye points towards increased conversations around the menopause as a key driver in this space too: ‘Heightened awareness has had quite a significant impact owing to hormones affecting the teeth. Now, a demographic typically unaccustomed to spending on themselves are now investing in their teeth to experience the long-term benefits that can be gained as a result.’

AI is changing the face of the dental health sector 

It’s impossible to avoid the consistent chatter around AI these days, but the tech has made oral care much more accessible and the dental experience much less daunting for patients. 

AI has been especially helpful in orthodontics, making the alignment process much simpler and refined. Dr Okoye says: ‘It means we can identify micro-movements in the alignment journey virtually – purely from photos submitted by patients. It can analyse how the teeth have moved and flag if there are any issues with progress, meaning that we can call in the patient only as and when needed.’

What about tech in the home? There are an increasing number of brands jumping on the electric toothbrush band wagon, with many looking to appeal to the masses with aesthetically appealing designs. Or, introducing water flossers to make flossing a novelty and emulate a dental practice clean.

However, Dr Okoye emphasises that just as with ingredients, a level of discernment is needed here too. ‘There is nothing wrong with a manual toothbrush, but it takes a lot more dexterity and technique to master an effective manual clean. Electric toothbrushes are just so much more efficient, much like a washing machine is for your clothes.’

She emphasises if you really want to master a clean, brushing with disclosing tablets will show you how effective your technique is and where there is room for improvement. 

Oral Beauty: An Evolutionary Road

Is the oral beauty revolution here to stay? Dr Okoye says resoundingly: ‘Yes! – Ingredients really matter for the surface of the skin, and even more so for the body. Essentially, your teeth and skin are all exactly the same – their structures and how they can be breached and therefore impacted, share so many similarities. If people can invest in their teeth the same way they invest in their skin, they will be all the better for it throughout their lives.’

To close, Dr Okoye highlights beautifully, ‘A person’s smile is universal, it’s used every day as the ultimate accessory.’

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