The Zoom Boom and the Demand for Cosmetic Dental Procedures

The global health crisis forced the world to go into an unprecedented period of lockdowns. Businesses were forced to embrace remote work and later, as countries have opened up, they have adopted a hybrid work model. One of the effects of remote and hybrid work models is that people are forced to spend a lot of time on video conferencing platforms such as Zoom. With so much time spent on Zoom, not just for work, but for personal communications as well, there was what has been referred to as a “Zoom boom”, with the demand for cosmetic dental procedures soaring. This is because people became so much more aware of flaws in their teeth and in their smiles, as a result of all the time that they were forced to spend on video conferences. Experts predict that the demand for cosmetic dental procedures will climb to levels greater than before the pandemic. KHN recently ran a piece covering the Zoom boom, in quite interesting ways.

KHN’s piece is based on data provided by NBC News, which showed that there was a rise in demand for cosmetic dental procedures as lockdown restrictions were eased. KHN interviewed Dr. Kourosh Maddahi, a cosmetic dentist practicing out of Beverly Hills, california. Like many cosmetic dentists, he noticed that demand for cosmetic dental procedures soared from around March, when pandemic restrictions began to be eased. Demand for such staples of cosmetic dentistry as teeth whitening, all the way through to full smile-makeovers, soared to levels higher than before the pandemic began. Many people outside the United States have also experienced an increased desire to have cosmetic dental work done on them. Dr. Maddahi has fielded many calls from people interested in travelling to the United States for treatment. Dr. Maddahi says that many people feel comfortable to go out and see dentists now because they are no longer scared. This is likely a reflection of the success of the vaccine rollout. Given the spread of the Delta variant, it remains to be seen how far this Zoom boom can go on. 

One factor not discussed by KHN is that people simply have more disposable income given the stimulus checks they received and the savings they would have made from being confined to their homes for so long. 

Another factor is that, given the fact that many states did not consider dental offices to be essential services, there was an accumulation of pent-up demand over several months. Since the end of the first lockdown and the reopening of dental offices last year, dentists have been battling with a backlog of patients. Many dentists are booked up several weeks or even months ahead. The Zoom Boom could also be a result of all that pent-up demand.

The shift to digital that occurred during the first lockdown did not just affect retail, banks and other businesses. It also impacted dental offices. With nothing to do and lots of savings building up, people went online and started “shopping” for cosmetic dental treatments. The long-term effect of this is that your dentist is more likely to welcome virtual consultations with patients, making access to dental care even more democratic.