Millennials: Challenging the status quo


  Posted by: Dental Design      5th May 2020

Millennials have been blamed for killing off just about everything from napkins and beer, to bar soap and diamonds. While some of these claims are extreme and far-fetched, there’s no doubt that millennials are disrupting industries worldwide. The majority of millennials – who are typically defined as people born between 1980 and 2000 – grew up as digital natives and are in their prime spending years, poised to reshape the economy. This tech-savvy generation expect not only convenience and efficiency, but also transparency in any transaction that they undertake. Their expectations of health services are not immune to this and we are now seeing the traditional model of dental care delivery being turned on its head.

Perhaps one of the key reasons for this is that millennials care more about their health and wellbeing than any other generation. According to a survey carried out by Inkling, being physically and mentally healthy topped the list for UK millennials when asked what would most help them live a happier, more fulfilled life. This survey also revealed that three quarters of millennials in Britain rank the NHS as the issue that they are most concerned about, topping other matters such as affordable housing, the environment and global warming.[i] Millennials are well known for valuing experiences rather than tangible goods, so perhaps it’s not a surprise that they are willing to invest in their health in order to better support their fast-paced, ever-changing lifestyle.

In fact, modern attitudes towards health and wellbeing mean that millennials now play a much greater role in determining how, when and where they receive care. There is an ever-increasing shift towards on-demand treatment, with many patients favouring healthcare products and services that are readily available and can be delivered with speed. This is being witnessed within dentistry, where more and more patients are beginning to truly realise and appreciate the lifelong benefits of having a healthy smile. When it comes to orthodontics, in particular, millennials make up one of the largest groups of patients with a desire for treatment, which is reflected in the latest statistics.

According to the British Orthodontic Society (BOS), the number of adults seeking orthodontic procedures in the UK remains high, with the majority of patients being in the 26- to 55-year-old demographic.[ii] Perhaps this is also unsurprising given that millennials are often stereotyped for being particularly image-conscious, placing great importance on how they perceive themselves and others. This is only further fuelled by social media and celebrity culture. As such, having a healthy, good-looking smile has become a top priority for many patients when it comes to enhancing one’s own appearance and improving health.

With access to the latest information, reviews and price comparison platforms at their fingertips, millennials are choosing products and services that offer maximum convenience at the lowest cost.[iii] This could be one of the drivers for why direct-to-consumer orthodontics – otherwise known as DIY orthodontics – has increased in popularity in recent years. Many start-up companies have sprung up, offering orthodontic appliances that enable patients to straighten their teeth from the convenience of their own home, at a fraction of the cost of traditional orthodontic treatment. These solutions are appealing to some patients because they promise quick and effective results, without the patient having to see an orthodontist in practice.

Despite the popularity of such systems, there are many potential problems associated with this treatment delivery system, which is why the BOS and Oral Health Foundation launched a national campaign last year warning the public against the dangers of DIY orthodontics.[iv] For instance, patients could run the risk of destabilising their occlusion and causing irreversible damage to the teeth and supporting structures. Moreover, using some direct-to-consumer orthodontic appliances can cause serious dental problems that could result in tooth loss or the need for more invasive dental treatment to resolve consequent complications.[v] Every patient is unique and, therefore, requires a tailored orthodontic treatment plan that will maximise results in the safest, most effective way.

The alignment of the teeth is a complex process. As such, it is vital for dental professionals to emphasise to patients the importance of investing in orthodontic treatment that is conducted under the direct and ongoing supervision of an appropriately registered dental professional. Even if you are unable to provide orthodontics for more complex dental problems, you can choose to refer to a trusted clinic like Ten Dental+Facial, whose multi award-winning team includes highly experienced orthodontists. They have the specialist skills and knowledge to competently deliver a wide range of treatments, from traditional orthodontic appliances to removable clear aligners.

Millennials possess greater spending power than previous generations, but are also more willing to shop around for a bargain.[vi] This provides the opportunity for dental professionals to remind patients that the risks outweigh the rewards of a one-size-fits-all approach to orthodontics – or any other dental procedure for that matter. It is crucial that clinicians engage with patients about the value of professional treatment, which should always involve face-to-face contact with a qualified dental professional in order to achieve the best possible result.


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[i] Inkling. (Unknown) UK Millennials Report. Link: [Last accessed: 12.12.19].

[ii] British Dental Journal. (2019) Orthodontic treatment for adults continues popularity. Link: [Last accessed: 12.12.19].

[iii] Goldman Sachs. (2019) Millennials: Coming of age. Link: [Last accessed: 12.12.19].

[iv] Oral Health Foundation. (2019) New campaign set to warn against DIY Orthodontics. Link: [Last accessed: 12.12.19].

[v] Smith, P. (2019) Harmful Effects of DIY Braces. The UnOrthoDoc. Link: [Last accessed: 12.12.19].

[vi] Accenture. (2013) Who are the Millennial shoppers? Link: [Last accessed: 12.12.19].

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