News Special: Combining Facial Aesthetics and Dentistry

By Ellie Holden / 01 Dec 2022

Following a rise in cosmetic dentistry procedures, Aesthetics investigates whether professionals are working collaboratively to achieve facial harmony

When evaluating a patient, practitioners tend to look at all the features of the face in harmony to produce a beautifully natural result. But do you also look at your patient’ s teeth when conducting facial examinations? 

With the global market for cosmetic dentistry predicted to grow at an annual rate of 5%, increasing its value to an estimated £21 billion by 2026, it might be time to work in synergy with a dentist or dental clinic to create full-facial harmony for your patients.1,2

With social media being a constant platform for information in patients’ everyday lives, dental practitioners have started to see a rise in procedures sought through this platform. According to a new study of 377 participants, 90.7% of dental practitioners believe there has been an increase in demand for cosmetic dental procedures, and social media is a major contributor to it.3 Concerning popular procedures, teeth whitening (54.7%), Hollywood smile (white, straight and aligned teeth – 17.1%), dental veneers (11.9%) and Invisalign (10.4%) were the most requested.3 Patients showed a desire for these procedures because they were trending on social media.

To find out more about the rise of cosmetic dentistry and what this means for the non-surgical aesthetics specialty, we spoke to vice president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) Dr Sam Jethwa and the organisation’s communications director Dr Sheila Nguyen. Dr Jethwa conducts only cosmetic dentistry but has a good referral process in place for facial aesthetics, and Dr Nguyen is a previous dentist turned aesthetic practitioner full-time.

Awareness through social media 

In an ever-growing industry, it can be difficult to differentiate yourself in a competitive market, with many turning to social media to promote their results. Almost half of the general dental practitioners in the study used social media for this purpose.

Much like the non-surgical facial aesthetics field, Dr Jethwa acknowledges the rise of social media within the cosmetic specialty and believes influencers have been a driving force behind this. He notes, “Social media is a powerful tool and the rise in requests for cosmetic dentistry is partly a result of patients being able to see before and after photos of real results – not only of dentistry but facial aesthetic improvements too. This allows patients to realise that the smile is just as important as the face and both work in harmony together.” 

Dr Nguyen agrees with this and has personally seen a rising demand across dental practices for facial aesthetic treatments. “We are seeing an increase in patients asking dentists whether they do facial aesthetics and feeling comfortable to discuss this. However, many dentists don’t do facial aesthetic procedures themselves, so I receive a lot of persona l referrals,” she explains. 

Working in partnership 

Both Dr Jethwa and Dr Nguyen agree that to achieve facial harmony for patients, all practitioners should observe the full-face, including the smile and teeth. They believe practitioners of all disciplines should have a referral pathway or partnership in place so that patients have access to both cosmetic dentistry and facial aesthetics to optimise outcomes. 

Building trusted relationships are key here, and not enough practitioners are working in partnership Dr Jethwa says, adding, “More education is always needed as there is still limited awareness amongst dentists on why they would modify a patient’s lips or why the jawline is relevant to the design of the teeth. Even if dentists don’t offer aesthetic treatments, it’s still important to have the understanding and knowledge of facial aesthetic treatments so they can advise patients and refer them to get a better result.”

Dr Nguyen believes facial aesthetics and dentistry are a fantastic blend, and having a referral pathway in place is pivotal. She says, “There is a lot that happens around the mouth and ageing teeth, such as perioral lines and pigmentation. Therefore, dentists shouldn’t just produce a beautiful smile, and facial aesthetic practitioners shouldn’t just produce beautiful lips. Practitioners and dentists should, therefore, work in synergy with each other.” 

Dr Nguyen adds that the best way to start conversations around referral pathways is to contact dental and aesthetic associations such as the BACN, BCAM, BACD and BDA, attend industry events and conferences such as ACE, BDIA and CCR, speak to colleagues for recommendations or contact reputable dentists on social media. 

A collaborative industry 

Achieving the best results for your patients is the aim of every aesthetic practitioner, so building relationships, pathways and referrals with a cosmetic dentist might be the future of this evolving specialty. Dr Jethwa concludes, “There is still a separation between facial aesthetics and dentistry when there is a huge overlap. I think the issue is that most dentists aren’t performing aesthetic treatments alongside dentistry, so our patients aren’t linking dentistry and facial aesthetics together, instead acknowledging them as two separate entities. It is our prerogative to change this by educating and advising patients, as well as practitioners, to achieve the best results.”

Referral guidelines

When you have a referral pathway in place, it’s important to abide by your professional register’s code for referrals. The GMC, GDC and NMC all have slightly different guidelines, but all mention the importance of ensuring that the referral is in the best interests of the patient rather than your own, only accepting referrals if you are trained or competent to carry out treatment and to not accept any inducement gift, payment or hospitality that could appear to affect your professional judgement.4-7

Upgrade to become a Full Member to read all of this article.