oral care

2021’s Next Big Beauty Trend Is Here & It’s Something to Smile About

Trust us—it could use an update.

By: Kaitlyn McLintock

Truth be told, aside from brushing and flossing our teeth, we’ve never given a whole lot of thought to our oral-care routines. But now, with 2020 nearly over (phew), gone are the days of the humble plastic toothbrush. You know the one—it’s manual, it has a rubber grip, and it comes with its twin in a two-for-one pack. It’s the same one you get in your post-dentist doggy bag. It’s cheap. It’s unassuming. It’s boring. But these days we can replace our basic brush with one that uses sonic vibrations, features six unique cleaning modes, and comes attached to a sleek monochromatic handle (matching travel case included). Plus, there are probably half a dozen other categories aside from just toothbrushes that have debuted new products over the last few months. It’s safe to say that this was the year the next generation of oral care took center stage.

Yeah, oral care is chic now. Who would have guessed it?

The answer to that question is Dr. Matt Nejad, a cosmetic and biomimetic dentist in Beverly Hills. In fact, he’s seen this trend coming for years. “Beauty is about harmony and balance,” he explains. “The beauty industry has historically neglected the oral cavity, with only dentists advocating for a healthy and beautiful mouth and teeth.”

This is in stark contrast to the mouth’s closest neighbor. “The lips have been the center of attention for many years,” he says, citing procedures like fillers and Botox in order to enhance their volume and definition and generally promote a more youthful appearance. “More recently, the lip-lift procedure has garnered attention as a surgical procedure to reverse the effects of aging on the lip.” It’s only natural, then, that our focus would eventually stray from the lips to the mouth as a whole. “All these types of procedures have continued to draw attention to the teeth, gums, and smile. Most people now realize the importance of the teeth and smile on overall beauty, harmony, and balance.”

It’s worth noting that this oral-care crescendo has taken place during a pandemic, when most of us are covering our mouths with masks—so why the renewed interest in the look and health of our teeth? The answer is twofold.

According to Dr. Nejad, the first is Zoom—or Skype, or Facetime, or whatever other video conference call you’re making. “On a weekly basis, a patient tells me how Facetime [or] Zoom interactions have really made them aware of their teeth and smile and caused an interest in improving their teeth,” he says. “The first reaction is always to look for a product or readily available solution to improve teeth, and gradually, people explore cosmetic dental procedures such as whitening, veneers, bondings, or orthodontics.”

Dr. Lisa Creaven and Dr. Vanessa Creaven, practicing dentists and founders of Spotlight Oral Care, agree. “We have found that people are spending more time on video calls during the pandemic, making them more aware of their smile than they would have been otherwise.”

The second reason everyone’s re-evaluating their oral-care routines in the midst of a pandemic has to do with our access (or lack thereof) to dentists and our renewed focus on health and wellness. Take it from board-certified cosmetic dentist Dr. Michaela Tozzi. “Many patients have had their routine hygiene [or] dental checkup visits delayed due to quarantine, so there may be some panic amongst consumers to keep their teeth clean, healthy, and white in the meantime.”

“More people are aware of their overall health because of the health crisis, which helps drive the conversation around the importance of choosing better oral-care products and maintaining optimal oral health,” Dr. Lisa and Dr. Vanessa Creaven say. “People are paying closer attention to the ingredients in their oral-health products and realizing that what they were using might not be what they should be using to achieve their desired results.”

So what are people turning to in order to achieve and maintain healthier, brighter smiles? They’re looking for oral-care brands that are both comprehensive and chic, like Brüush. Aneil Manhas is the founder and CEO of the electric toothbrush company. “The oral-care industry has long been perceived as bland—from the stale design of the traditional options, to the poor shopping experience, to dull branding and marketing,” he says. “To say the category has long been ignored would be a fair statement. Brands like Brüush have been able to enter the market with an exciting new option for the modern consumer. We have been squarely focused on changing the way consumers purchase, use, and think about their toothbrush through three key factors: professional-quality cleaning, savvy design, and a brush-head subscription model.”

He likens Brüush’s subscription model to that of razor brands like Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club, which is yet another not-so-sexy personal-care category that’s undergone a glamorized face-lift. The same goes for deodorant. Natural deodorants, which were once scoffed at by the mass market, are becoming the norm for many consumers. It’s all part of the same sweeping trend2020 is making personal care, well, cool.

“It was long overdue, really,” says Dr. Tozzi. “Innovation from a younger generation has been able to gain market share via social media and influencers, allowing smaller brands to meet a large audience in a rapid fashion.”

The trend shows no signs of stopping in the new year. In fact, experts predict it will continue to boom in an even bigger fashion. “The oral-care industry right now looks a lot like the skin-care industry did 20 years ago as it merges [with] the beauty space, creating an entirely new category for oral beauty,” say Dr. Lisa and Dr. Vanessa Creaven. “When we look at our skin care, we look for results-driven, targeted, and active ingredients, and it should be the same with oral care. For example, in the past everyone used the same toothpaste because it was assumed all toothpaste was the same, but that is completely different now. Given this change, consumers are looking for bespoke offerings that are tailored to their oral-care needs, whether that is whitening, gum health, thinning enamel, and more.”

As we consider our routines for 2021 and beyond, keep an eye out for bespoke oral-care products that are tailored towards specific dental concerns, chic brushing and flossing options, and brands that marry personal care and lifestyle categories. As Nejad puts it, “The pandemic has kick-started this trend, and I think it will continue for the foreseeable future. More than ever, people are talking about their teeth and smile and understand the importance of taking care of their teeth.”

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