How is the demographic for tooth whitening changing?

Kiran Shankla explores the changing demographic and consumer choices for tooth whitening in the UK and how dental professionals can play a role in educating people about legal and effective options.

In recent years, the quest for a brighter, whiter smile has become a significant trend. Tooth whitening has evolved beyond being a cosmetic luxury for a select few. It now caters for a diverse range of consumers. This shift is marked by demographic changes and the over-abundance of choices for those seeking a radiant smile.

Traditionally associated with celebrities and the affluent, tooth whitening has been democratised, reaching a broader spectrum of people. No longer confined to a specific age group or socioeconomic class, individuals across various backgrounds are seeking an enhanced smile. One notable demographic shift is the increased interest among millennials and Generation Z. Known for emphasising self-care and appearance, their desire for a perfect ‘Instagram-worthy’ smile has become a driving force behind the surge in tooth whitening popularity. 

According to the Oral Health Foundation, four in 10 people under 35 have had tooth whitening. A further 48% are planning to have their teeth whitened within the next 12 months. In addition, 32% of Brits want whiter teeth, while 66% have actively considered it (Oral Health Foundation, 2020).

Tackling an abundance of consumer choice

The expansion of the tooth whitening market has led to plenty of consumer choices. These range from over-the-counter products to professional dentist-led treatments. 

As a profession, we have a duty of care to inform and educate patients that tooth whitening can only be legally and safely carried out by a registered dental professional. None of the whitening solutions purchased on the high street, such as strips and toothpastes, will have a high enough concentration of the whitening agent to penetrate into the enamel and whiten effectively. These factors mean our professional options suddenly seem all the more attractive to the end user.

The diversity of professional whitening options has evolved since the early days of high concentrated hydrogen peroxide and power lamps. In the past decade, the dental industry has had to advance its offering to not only meet EU laws that state that only concentrations up to 6% hydrogen peroxide (18% carbamide peroxide) must be used but also ensure it has a solution that allows individuals to tailor their tooth whitening experience to their preferences, budgets and lifestyles. 

When faced against prominent whitening brands with large marketing budgets targeting younger consumers through social media, convincing consumers to choose the safer and more effective professional alternative relies on being able to offer choice. 

The emphasis on providing choice at all levels can assure patients of professional supervision in dental practices. While acknowledging the appeal of over-the-counter options, dentists can highlight the advanced and reliable nature of professional products, ensuring patient trust in safety and effectiveness.

Advanced solutions 

In such a competitive whitening market, quick results and ease of use are essential product ‘must-haves’ . This means that take-home whitening products continue to lead the way. SDI Ltd contributes to this evolving market with the Pola Advanced tooth whitening system. Endorsed by tooth whitening expert Dr Linda Greenwall, the system is known for its proven research and clinical success for the past 25 years.

With changing demographics driving demand, brands like Pola are addressing the need for quick results and ease of use. Innovations such as the Pola Light (an advanced LED mouthpiece) and Pola for Aligners (perfectly formulated for orthodontic aligner trays) prioritise patient comfort, reduced sensitivity and increased compliance, setting new standards for safe and effective tooth whitening.

The transformative phase of tooth whitening in the UK reflects inclusivity and accessibility. It is now a common practice for individuals of all ages and backgrounds. The wide array of products and services allows consumers to choose approaches aligned with their preferences, needs and budget. 

As technology advances, the future promises even more innovative and tailored solutions. This will ensure a brighter, whiter smile is accessible to every demographic.

Read more National Teeth Whitening Day articles: 

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