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A short history of... Dental Advertising

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Dental advertising perhaps conjures images of smiling, rosy-cheeked children brushing their teeth, or colourful tubes of toothpaste thrust into billboard limelight. But behind the toothy-grinned façade lies an unusual and somewhat intriguing history of dentistry and the advertising industry.

Early days

Google 'vintage dental advertising' and your screen will become awash with advertisements from the turn of the century onwards, featuring posters stating teeth are "like rare pearls" and "do as your dentist tells you". However, following the 1921 Dental Act in the UK, it was prohibited to advertise dentistry.

Throughout the 1920s and 30s, those unqualified in dentistry took advantage of these new regulations, and created ads for local newspapers and posters outside their practices.

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Across the pond

In the USA, the American Dental Association banned dentistry advertising in 1866 which, staggeringly, remained enforced until as recently as 1977. Instead, text-heavy marketing was deployed to offer readers a strictly informative (but frankly dull) description about dental health services and products available. The marketing material typically communicated "not what the reader wants or feels, but what is needed from the expert’s perspective".

From the mid-20th century onwards, looking after one's teeth became to be seen more as a lifestyle choice than strictly a medical issue, and advertising in the latter years reflected this in the proliferation of advertisements for dental products across the media and, of course, the internet.

Back to the Future

So, what's the future of dental advertising? There will always be demand for oral care, so perhaps it's a case of dentistry keeping up with new technologies. After all, most practices use social media to advertise their services, don't they? You can find our Facebook page here, our Twitter page right here and don't forget you can always find your local Oasis Dental Care on our website.