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First, dermatologists came out with skin-care lines to attract a higher tier of clientele and tout their multitasking. Now, more dentists than ever dabble in research and development to create so-called “smile beauty” lines they hope will make them a mint.
Industry analysts say more than a dozen doctors have brought out items in the last year or plan to this year.
“ Cosmetic dentistry was an under-served market and another beauty target,” said Michele Harris, the chief executive of Smarti Solutions, a marketing consultancy. “Teeth-whitening woke everyone up and set the platform for new products and innovation. Along with that comes the need to differentiate and brand yourself.”
Roughly half a million Americans sought medical care abroad in 2006, of which 40 percent were dental tourists
Dental bridges and bonding ranked No. 1 and 2 on a list of most sought-after procedures for Americans traveling abroad for medical care
Two reasons are at play, according to industry experts: a higher demand for elective dental care like bonding and veneers, and second, the growing number of medical travel agents who vouch for the foreign doctors they recommend.
In years past, the farthest that Leona Denison, 30, a cosmetologist from Albuquerque, usually went for a getaway was Arizona. This year, her family of four went to Costa Rica, where she got nine dental implants and three crowns.
“ It took a lot of coaxing on my part to get my husband to agree, but Medcentrek helped with all the arrangements,” Ms. Denison said. “We saw waterfalls and volcanoes. My husband went rafting . Being from New Mexico, my girls really loved the ocean.”
Even with travel expenses, she paid $6,000 less than the $21,000 price a local dentist had quoted for the work.
Dentists’ incomes have grown faster than that of the typical American and the incomes of medical doctors. Formerly poor relations to physicians, American dentists in general practice made an average salary of $185,000 in 2004, the most recent data available. That figure is similar to what non-specialist doctors make, but dentists work far fewer hours. Dental surgeons and orthodontists average more than $300,000 annually.
“ Dentists make more than doctors,” said Morris M. Kleiner, a University of Minnesota economist. “If I had a kid going into the sciences, I’d tell them to become a dentist.”