The pandemic year put many things on hold for much of America; largely, public events with people other than members of your own household. With this came a relaxing of fashion standards, and the tendency to champion comfort over all else. Some aspects of hygiene, like annual or biannual trips to the dentist, also fell by the wayside along with this.

But as the country reopens again in earnest, with less health risk associated with paying the dentist a mask-less visit, you can expect a revived interest in flashing those pearly whites. According to a recent CivicScience study, more than half of Americans currently rate their dental health as “very important,” and 88% of consumers regard it with at least some importance.

More than two-thirds of Americans have either visited the dentist in the past six months or plan to in the near future — indicating that visits are largely back on track. Whatever compromises were made in terms of dental health this past year should be reversed in short order.

But a healthy mouth and an aesthetically pleasing mouth aren’t entirely synonymous, even if they often go together. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products are still favored by nearly 30% of consumers, who have either purchased one of these products or would like to in the future. Over-the-counter whitening products tend to outpace their popularity among the Gen Pop in cities, with more than half of all urban residents pursuing teeth whitening — whether it’s at home or at the dentist’s office.

No Shortage of Whitening Options

It certainly seems like there is a wider array of teeth whitening products available than ever before — some of which can bring dentist-grade tech right to your home. That said, whitening strips are still vastly the preferred whitening product among consumers who purchase them. Women generally purchase whitening products at a higher rate than men — but a significant proportion of consumers who intend to purchase whitening tabs are men. Coconut oil is also a bit more evenly split, with men making up 40% of consumers who intend to purchase it.

But interest across the board for whitening products has waned since the pandemic, with 14% of consumers claiming to be less interested in purchasing them than they were more than a year ago. Perhaps with their eyes trained on social events or in-person work resuming, there’s still a notable chunk who are more interested in taking a chance on the array of whitening products.

And even outside the purview of traditional teeth whitening products, one-fifth of consumers consider whitening their most important toothpaste attribute. This either rivals or nearly eclipses every other health-oriented priority for brushing.

But after a largely abnormal year, a majority of Americans’ faith in whitening products is unshaken. As long as people have smiles, they’ll want them to be bright and sparkling — no matter how unconventional the approach to get there.

In the coming weeks, CivicScience will take a closer look into consumer toothpaste and brand preferences.