How Instagram Influences the Dental Industry

As we prepare to dive into the impact Instagram has on the dental industry, we must first express that we’re about to enter some gray territory. More than constructing a polarity of “right or wrong,” we’re here to share some facts on how social media is impacting patients and society, while equally holding space for the fact that cosmetic dentistry treatments are often a life-changing experience for the patients who choose to receive them. Now that we’re on the same page, and no baby (teeth) will be thrown out with the proverbial bathwater, let’s take an objective look at the social and technological phenomenon of the 21st century that influences all of our lives, in both subtle and overt ways.

In the Eye of the (Popular) Beholder

What makes a person beautiful? From the lens of human history, all you have to do is briefly compare Venus of Willendorf to the Mona Lisa to realize that standards of beauty are very subject to change, and generally reflect a range of socio-cultural factors and trends. While art, in all its mediums, has been used to reflect changing ideals of beauty since time immemorial, media marketing for beauty products only began in 17th- and 18th-century Europe, reflecting the same time period when newspapers had become more commonplace.

What were some of the first products marketed, you ask? Beyond relatively unremarkable ads for lipsticks and rouges (blush), early advertisements were for a powder containing white lead and ground rice, used to whiten the skin and hair. Popularized by Elizabeth I, who used a mixture of lead and vinegar called ceruse to whiten her complexion and conceal smallpox scars, this lead-based beauty product caused slow-onset poisoning, with side effects including dry skin, premature graying, abdominal upset, and constipation.

While lead face treatments have thankfully fallen out of popularity (we’ve since moved on to activated charcoal, algae, and green tea), looking back at the beauty industry’s advertising history does reveal a hearty kernel of truth that’s still relevant today: the aesthetic preferences of popular and powerful figures often set the trends and influence the choices everyday people make.

Dentistry and Social Media in the 2020s

While we’ll likely never know if their motivations were restorative, cosmetic, or some blend of the two, we do know that humans have long understood the vital importance our smiles play in daily living. Ancient Egyptians used gold wire to attach what’s believed to be the earliest dental crowns, while the Mayan people of North and Central America successfully used shells to replace missing teeth. What we do know is that the first prototype of dental veneers was born in the late 1920s, when Hollywood actors began seeking options to improve their smile’s appearance. To satisfy this rising demand for high-style smiles, California dentist Dr. Charles Pincus developed the first prototype for porcelain veneers in 1928, in the form of removable acrylic tooth caps for actors to wear during filming. Smile makeovers with veneers mostly stayed within the entertainment industry, seeing a rise in popularity in the 1990s, with stars like Chris Rock, Tom Cruise, and Celine Dion opting for a smile upgrade.

Today’s celebrities are still upgrading their smiles with porcelain veneers (and are even singing about it, like Cardi B in her award-winning song “It’s Cardi”), though they’re far from the only ones seeking treatment. While modern dental technology and the rise of cosmetic dentistry has made porcelain veneers more affordable and accessible to more patients, Instagram influencers are now endorsing the treatment, even documenting their cosmetic dentistry journey from start to finish. As Instagram influencers lift the veil of the veneer treatment process, dentists across the world—from celebrity dentists in Dubai to your local Duvall family dentist—are seeing the demand for cosmetic dentistry treatments, especially porcelain veneers, increase. With that, if you’ve been thinking about getting a cosmetic dentistry treatment, or if you recently watched “The Social Dilemma,” you may find yourself seriously asking: what, and who, are influencing me?

Be Your Own Influencer

As each one of us is influenced in multiple ways by social media, taking your time to answer the above question is, no doubt, a worthy inquiry. Social media use has been associated with both positive and negative mental and social health outcomes, and is influenced by a variety of intersecting factors that are unique as the individual users that partake in their platforms. That said, if you’ve been thinking about getting a cosmetic dentistry treatment and are concerned you’re in it for the “wrong” reasons, take a step back from your socials and check-in.

First, we invite you to spare yourself from getting locked into a socially constructed right-wrong binary. Your smile is your smile, and what you choose to do, or not do, with it is ultimately up to you. With a safe space to explore your feelings, desires, and concerns, you may ask yourself what updating your smile’s appearance means to you, and how you feel it will improve one or more areas of your life or well-being. You may also consider talking it out with a trusted friend or therapist, who can help you explore the situation with a fresh or nuanced perspective.

No matter what you decide, Duvall Dental Center is on your side as we believe that every patient is in the best position to maintain or modify their smile’s appearance. If you decide you love your smile exactly as it is, we look forward to helping you maintain it for life with routine dental exams and cleanings. If you want to know your options for making small or big changes to your smile while maintaining a unique appearance, Dr. Tyler and his team will guide you through a thorough cosmetic consultation, and explain the ins-and-outs of treatment planning and completion. However you’d like to wear your smile, we celebrate your choice, and look forward to supporting your decision. Contact our office today to schedule your next appointment.