Keeping it clean – the oral health needs of cosmetic dental patients

Dental hygienist Rachel Pointer provides a reminder of the oral health needs of cosmetic dentistry patients

Today’s general public has well and truly embraced the notion of a perfect smile. Indeed, surveys conducted by the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry following the smoking ban in 2007 showed some dental practices recorded a 40% increase in patients seeking tooth whitening.

Moreover, in 2013, a survey by found a 60% increase in patient interest for clear aligners in a two-year period, despite the higher price tag on this treatment compared with traditional fixed orthodontics, and enquiries for laser teeth whitening had risen by 116%. Demand for over-the-counter whitening kits also rose by 500%, according to cosmetic dentist Dr Nissit Patel.

The real cost

Of course, these figures confirm there are huge profit opportunities for dental professionals; the range of treatments on the rise spans from relatively affordable options like sonic cleaning/polishing, through to laser whitening, cosmetic bonding, orthodontics and veneers.

Patients prepared to spend thousands for dental work will also understandably expect to be fully briefed on maintaining their new smile – protecting their investment. Not forgetting that patients also ‘pay’ in other ways than simply financially to achieve a stunning smile. In the example of veneers, preparing existing teeth and removing enamel in order to fit them is unlikely to be pain free.

Oral health maintenance

After cash and emotional injections have been made, it is prudent for patients to evaluate their oral hygiene for the longevity of their cosmetic treatment – even if money is no object, pain and discomfort will be.

Taking veneers as an example, the treatment may produce unprecedented aesthetic results, but the patient must understand that they are not as hardy as natural teeth and their maintenance involves considerations such as diet, smoking, and ways of eating certain foods (for example, hard fruit like apples needs to be cut into pieces and then eaten).

“It is prudent for patients to evaluate their oral hygiene for the longevity of their cosmetic treatment”

The materials used for veneers aren’t affected by the formation of dental caries but the ensuing treatments to enamel can render teeth too weak to support them. Who would wish to see all that expense going down the drain due to something as simple as poor oral hygiene? Traditional string floss is effective for accessing tight spaces, but some dental professionals believe it simply moves debris from one part of the mouth to another.

Interdental brushes are an invaluable alternative for maintaining high standards of oral health while being gentle on teeth and gums, particularly in the interproximal region. Studies have shown that these brushes are more effective for reducing bleeding and plaque between four and 12 weeks, than floss (Imai et al, 2012).

Spending time and money on cosmetic dental treatments are only truly cost-effective if patients are well briefed on the importance of oral health maintenance, and instructed on the use of the appropriate tools to achieve it.


General Dental Council (2012) Looking Ahead. Changes to dental provision in the UK and the implications for the General Dental Council. A Policy Horizon Scanning Report

Imai PH, Yu X, MacDonald D (2012) Comparison of interdental brush to dental floss for reduction of clinical parameters of periodontal disease: a systematic review. Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene 46(1): 63-78

This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue of Aesthetic Dentistry Today. Read more articles like this in Aesthetic Dentistry Today and gain three hours’ verifiable CPD with every issue. Click here to subscribe or call 01923 851 777. Get in touch via Twitter @AesDenToday.

Rachel Pointer

Rachel Pointer

Author at Aesthetic Dentistry Today

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