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Dentistry, tweakments and the Zoom-boom

Written by: Len D’Cruz, Head of BDA Indemnity
Published on: 13 Aug 2021

FO Facial Aesthetics

There are two terms in that title that are new to my lexicon. But such is life.

Over the last 18 months as many people have worked remotely, holding meetings, learning and staying in touch with friends and family online, HD cameras have exacerbated or accelerated an interest in facial aesthetics.

More than ever, according to The Telegraph[1], patients are seeking ‘tweakments’; treatments involving sympathetic and gentle changes to facial features usually using botulinum toxin and dermal fillers. Patients report feeling old because of the toll of 2020 or being more aware of signs of ageing because of those pesky phone or laptop cameras. And many are accepting of the course of action they can take without invasive surgery.

I can cope with “Zoom boom” and other words that have suddenly arrived like “pingdemic” relating to the app notifications that suggest you have been standing or sitting for too long next to someone who later tests positive for Covid. Most likely on a plane or train. But “tweakments” as a play on “treatments” is not quite right to my mind.

Whilst there may be a demand for light touch tweakments from the public, the dental profession are required to provide botulinum toxin and fillers and other facial aesthetic treatments  after they have been suitably trained, just like all the other treatment they provide. This might not be considered to be the practise of dentistry but it is dentists and registered dental professionals that are often providing these treatments.

The reference to tweakments might seem to undermine the professionalism involved and this trivializes both the professional skills required and some of the quite significant risks involved in these treatments, especially facial fillers. We can’t really be saying dental practices should emulate the ethos of a nail parlour or spa

It’s an area dentists could capitalise on, using our clinical credibility and premises to shine in a busy marketplace. Aside from diversifying and broadening the portfolio of the practice, the use of injectable cosmetic treatments in the peri-oral area can also be a useful adjunct to dental treatment when provided by a trained dentist.

Recently, the BDA reported that a group of MPs called on the government to end the 'Wild West' of non-surgical beauty treatments. Many patients seeking cosmetic treatment remain unaware of the degree of protection that is missing when seeking apparently similar treatment from an unregulated individual working from premises that have not been inspected by CQC (or equivalent). The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing is calling on the government to address the need for regulation of such procedures and the associated injectable cosmetic agents, including appropriate insurance.

MPs spent a year on an inquiry and have made 17 recommendations following concerns that currently anyone can carry out any treatment, with minimal legal restrictions on who can provide them or what qualifications they must have to do so.  The insufficient legal framework governing these treatments has left patients at risk and undermined the industry’s ability to develop.

Valid consent; information governance and record keeping; safe premises; infection control; treatment room safety; adverse incident reporting; physiology and anatomy; treatment of anaphylaxis and understanding of existing medical conditions are all areas a dentist is familiar with and this knowledge and expertise can be communicated to patients and be considered a competitive advantage with regards to the wider market.

Patients may present with a ‘look’ in mind having seen a friend’s results, or having been influenced by trends on social media. Your ability to foresee physiological and psychological issues, your communication skills and your chairside manner are all essential in helping that patient to envisage their own likely results.

As with most courses of treatment, the success of any cosmetic procedure depends on the extent to which patient expectations have been understood, managed and met. Understanding the motivation, wants and needs, hopes, fears and concerns is essential before providing any cosmetic treatment for the patient, but also for your own risk mitigation and management. Nobody actually “needs” facial aesthetic treatments so understanding the drivers and expectations for this elective treatment is an important part of the consultation.

I can reassure BDA Indemnity policyholders they are indemnified for the use and administration of facial cosmetic injectable procedures above the lower border of the mandible; your patients are also protected by your indemnity arrangements and a process for managing complaints if anything should go wrong. This is part of all Extra and Expert members’ policy terms. This has been the case since the indemnity policy exclusively for BDA members was launched three years ago. Dentists with other indemnity arrangements should check their own cover before embarking on training and offering treatments.  

“BDA Indemnity is a policy arranged by the British Dental Association and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance. The British Dental Association is an appointed representative of Lloyd & Whyte Ltd. Lloyd & Whyte Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).