The global pandemic forced a shift to remote work and the use of video conferencing platforms for communication with teams, friends and family. As more and more people used video conferencing platforms such as Zoom to communicate, their faces became the focus of attention. With in-person communication, your face is less important than you realize. People look at your face, but also your whole body, and at things going on around you. It’s rare to have someone look exclusively at your face during a conversation! With video conferencing, the face is everything and any flaws are noticed. This led to a dramatic rise in demand for cosmetic dentistry as people noticed that the smiles they had once so confidently exposed to the world were flawed. The impact of Zoom and other video conferencing platforms on cosmetic dentistry has been so great that dentists talk about a “Zoom Boom” or “Zoom effect”.
It is not the first time that people have turned to cosmetic products and procedures after a national disaster. After World War II, 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2007, there was a “lipstick effect” as demand for lipstick and other cosmetic products and services rose. This was attributed to the need for people to feel better about themselves and look more attractive in the wake of a tragedy or traumatic experience. After the Great Recession, demand for cosmetic dentistry services such as teeth whitening and porcelain veneers jumped. Dentists also started to offer Botox and dermal fillers to patients, which at the time seemed strange but today is normal.
The Zoom Boom is bigger than the lipstick effect. The reason for this is the all-pervasive nature of video conferencing. Firstly, poor lighting makes everyone look bad. Secondly, laptops and phone cameras have wide-angle lenses, so that faces become more distorted the closer you get to the camera. Thirdly, laptop and phone cameras are usually used at an angle facing up, exposing smile lines, lip lines, jowls, double chins, chin deficiencies, wrinkled necks, chipped or broken teeth, holes in teeth and discoloured or misaligned teeth. After months of seeing these flaws advertised to the world, it’s clear why the demand, not just for cosmetic dentistry, but all cosmetic products and services, is so high.
The evidence is clear. The American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute reported that 97% of dental offices (5,000 were surveyed) offered elective care and were operating at 65% of their pre-Covid-19 volume. The American Academy of Facial Esthetics surveyed its members and found that those who offered injectable therapy experienced an 18% increase in injectable production from the pre-pandemic era, an 85% increase in patient volume, and a rise of 12% in demand for injectable treatment.
The dentists surveyed not only offer traditional cosmetic dentistry treatments, they also offer injectable therapy as well as emergency care. Injectable therapy and emergency care typically has short appointment times, allowing dentists to have a higher volume of patients and earn more income. Demand for dental whitening has soared, given that it is so cost-effective and easy to do. The demand for dental implants and porcelain veneers have lagged as they are pricier options and time-consuming.
For the patient looking to improve their “Zoom smile”, look no further than Dr. Hal N. Arnold.