Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Bad economy equals tough time for teeth

February 26, 2010

We all know that people have cut back on shopping, dining out, vacations and other pursuits in the difficult economy. Turns out many are also neglecting their smiles.

dentistMore than 90 percent of dentists surveyed by the Chicago Dental Society said clients are putting off cosmetic procedures, up from 60 percent a year earlier.

The stress of unemployment and other concerns also are taking their toll.  Sixty-five percent of dentists saw an increase in jaw clenching and teeth grinding among their patients.

The dental group released findings from its fall 2009 survey this week as it holds its 145th annual Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.  The three-day event, which wraps up on Saturday, gives dental professionals the chance to check out new toothbrushes, chairs, goggles and other tools.  And it looks like companies are in tune with the tough times.  Reuters Shop Talk took a stroll through the main floor of the show and saw several companies offering dentists discounts of 40 percent or more on power toothbrushes and other dental goods if they bought them on the spot.

More than 75 percent of the dentists surveyed said patients are putting off needed dental work and a majority said visits for preventative dental care were down.

The survey was conducted before Tiger Woods‘ personal life was major news, but apparently he was already on many people’s minds. His smile, along with that of actor Tom Cruise, topped the list of most requested celebrity smiles when male patients came in. Among women, Julia Roberts had the most requested smile for the second consecutive year.

In case you want to start taking better care of your teeth — maybe before that next visit? — dentists were split on which routine is better, brushing and then flossing, or flossing and then brushing.  So we’ll leave it up to you.

(Reuters photo)

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