Gender Equality and Cosmetic Dentistry

What does gender equality really look like?

By now everyone has seen the stat proclaiming that women make “77 cents on the dollar” compared to men. While the issue may not be as apples-to-apples as that, a gap does exist, and women have been struggling against it for a long time.

Ironically, one of the ways women have been trying to battle against lower earnings is with higher spending. Research by the American Association of Cosmetic Dentistry shows that the majority of cosmetic dentistry patients are women.

But more and more men are jumping on the cosmetic dentistry train.

It’s competition — 100 percent,” said Dr. Bruce Hartley of the Peninsula Center of Cosmetic Dentistry. “You have five or six guys vying for the same job and one looks handsome, has a nice smile, dresses well and looks sharp — he’s going to have an edge.”

Many experts cite the “tech boom” as a driving factor. In an age where profile pics, YouTube, and ceiling-high keynote presentation screens are becoming the norm, appearance may matter more than ever.

Dr. Hartley elaborates: “I have a lot of the CEO types that say, ‘Hey, I’m up on a big 30-foot-screen or on television now. The last time I saw myself on the business channel, I didn’t like my smile.’ They’re seeing that, and realize a new smile will make a difference.”

Questions of the overall social appropriateness of placing such a high value on appearance are, for the moment, moot. Simply put, our society values attractiveness. We notice and respond favorably to a healthy, white smile.

As our appearances pop up in more and more places, it will be interesting to see whether the cosmetic dentistry gender statistics realign and balance. Because equality advances don’t always make things easier for the struggling side. Sometimes they just spread out the struggle.

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