General Dentistry Trends Reflected in Cosmetics? AACD Survey Suggests Otherwise

January 20, 2016 by AACD Executive Office

A recent survey of dental professionals conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) focused on the role cosmetic procedures play in respondents’ dental practices. The survey data reveals that cosmetic procedures continue to bring life to dental practices and that general industry trends are not all applicable to practices that offer more cosmetic treatments to their patients.

Cosmetic Dentistry State of the Industry report The AACD has conducted the biennial State of the Cosmetic Dentistry Industry Survey over the last 11 years, and the data collected is used to determine the size and impact, in terms of procedures and revenues, of the cosmetic dentistry market. The 2015 State of the Cosmetic Dentistry Industry survey supports earlier data that the field of cosmetic dentistry continues to flourish and show persistent growth potential. Additionally, the data sheds light on how general dentistry industry trends are playing out in practices that offer cosmetic procedures.

The 2015 survey was conducted between September and November of 2015 and garnered responses from 360 dental professionals. The survey includes a snapshot of current cosmetic dental practice and patient demographics, plus some encouraging findings relating to the profitability of offering cosmetic procedures. In fact, revenue from cosmetic dentistry procedures showed a four-point increase in the top three tiers of the survey ($500,000 to more than $1 million) since 2013.

Demand for Cosmetic Procedures

This trend isn’t surprising considering cosmetic procedures continue to be popular with patients seeking cosmetic treatments for a number of reasons including: to improve physical attractiveness and self-esteem (86%); for restorative or heath reasons (46%); to look and feel younger (45%); and anticipated upcoming events like weddings (48%) (Figure 1). These patients are most frequently electing whitening treatments, veneers, crowns or bridgework, and bonding – procedure types that survey respondents say have either stayed the same or generated more revenue from the previous year to present. The expectation held by the majority of respondents is that these procedures will continue to generate the same amount of revenue or more in the coming year, with the greatest expectation being that dental implants will continue to see the most positive change. 

Figure 1: What reasons do your patients cite for wanting cosmetic dentistry treatments?


General Dentistry Trends Reflected in Cosmetics?

While the continued profitability of offering cosmetic procedures is not shocking, the survey did offer some surprises. “Some of the most notable findings from the survey are those that relate to larger trends in the dental industry – and suggest that AACD members aren’t getting swept along in the tide that is corporate dentistry and aren’t feeling the insurance squeeze. Most AACD members are owners or associates in solo practice and are able to focus on fee-for-service dentistry as they perform increasingly popular cosmetic procedures,” noted AACD President Joyce Bassett, DDS, FAACD.

Though some trends in the dental industry aren’t reflected in the cosmetic dentistry industry, there is one trend that even cosmetic dentists can’t avoid. According to Bassett, “The digital push is definitely something being felt in the area of cosmetics – more than 50% of respondents said they either currently use chairside CAD/CAM or are considering purchasing a chairside CAD/CAM system.”

“The digital push is definitely something being felt in the area of cosmetics."


The Big Picture

The 2015 survey findings are reassuring for dentists who already offer cosmetic procedures in their practice and should be catalyzing for dentists who don’t. Sixty percent of respondents identified themselves as general dentists, strongly suggesting that cosmetic procedures are no longer exclusively in the realm of a few practitioners – though specialized training in cosmetic procedures is important in order to provide patients esthetically pleasing, predictable, and long lasting results. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry is a valuable resource for continuing education in comprehensive cosmetic dentistry, and as more and more general dentists add cosmetic procedures to their repertoire, AACD membership may be the differentiating factor for discerning cosmetic patients.
As part of the AACD’s mission to advance excellence in the art and science of comprehensive cosmetic dentistry and encouraging the highest standards of ethical conduct and responsible patient care, the Academy provides authoritative, accurate and useful information to the public and the profession, including the biennial State of the Industry Survey.

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