What are we Doing so Wrong?

August 1, 2014

pretty woman with surpised face expressionImagine a major company which sells products that people really need in order to live healthy and comfortable lives. Everyone that does not use their services either has pain or potentially will experience pain. This company exists in a unique position of a monopoly, having sole rights to all the possible products available and has patents outstanding on every possibility for the future.

Now, a marketing survey finds that they are selling to about half the population. In fact, even parents of children who are vulnerable do not take them to company outlets. What happens to the sales and marketing teams? I rather suspect that they would be replaced by professionals who would bring in customers from the missing market share that couldn’t even go elsewhere!

A recent report from the UK dental consumer market has shown that only 52 per cent of the UK population visited the dentist within the two-year period studied. This number has not changed significantly since 2011! The report also states that only 53 per cent of British parents with children under the age of 12 take their children to the dentist every six months.

What is going right?

Although people aren’t going to the dentist there was a significant increase in oral care products aimed at both adults and children. For instance: “in 2013, BabySonic, the first electronic toothbrush designed for babies, from birth to 3 years, was launched by the Brush-Baby company”. According to the report, it has grown by four per cent annually, primarily driven by increasing sales of mouthwash, dental accessories and denture products. The investigators expect the market to grow by about 22 per cent in the next five years to reach an estimated value of £1.23 billion in 2018.

The report also found that the dental cosmetic industry experienced huge growth in up to 2013, reaching £1.8 billion. According to the report: “30 per cent of British citizens use whitening toothpaste every day and 55 per cent have used whitening toothpaste in the past three months. The majority of people who use such tooth-whitening products are single men between 16 and 24 years old”.

So basically people want to try treating themselves by using any gadget possible to avoid turning up for a check-up. When they do come in, they are interested in smile-improvement rather than health-improvement.


This means that half the population is not receiving diagnostic dental care and catching early disease, but waiting for it to become a painful problem. It means that children are being left until the point where they need extractions and this has become the main reason for hospital admission for young people.

As a profession we ought to target this huge missing group of potential customers. Services for nervous patients, information about prevention and the connections with heart disease and diabetes, the dangers for children of not receiving regular examinations. All these things are important for the general health of the UK population. ……….and of course, every new patient might want some cosmetic work once they know we don’t hurt!!!

Note: The report is based on data obtained through a survey of 2,000 internet users aged 16 and over. It was conducted by Mintel, a global provider of market research, in February this year.

John Shapter
John Shapter

Dental Specialist


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