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Which Generation has the Best Oral Health?

January 23, 2019

Millennials seem to be responsible for quite a lot in the headlines these days, so here’s one question we’re curious about: which generations, if any, have good oral health habits?

You’d think the answer was as simple as “Gen X,” “Baby Boomers,” or “Gen Y.” But, what good oral health habits really entail isn’t so straightforward.

A recent study provided some eye-opening analytics into the perception of good oral health habits across generations. Since aging and oral health problems go hand in hand, the state of one’s oral health may not represent their good practices.

GOOD ORAL HEALTH HABITS | HAPPY WITH YOUR HYGIENE

According to Streetbees, merely 25.24% of respondents under the age of 26 report being happy with their oral or dental hygiene. This is compared to the 74.75% that thinks they should be doing more than they are currently.

chart
Courtesy of Streetbees

Gen Z and Millennials cited that “time constraints/ having a busy lifestyle” (44.44%) and simply being “lazy” (21.57%) prevent them from improving their routine.

chart 2
Courtesy of Streetbees

Respondents ages 36 and older are similar:

  • Only 27.84% feel that they’re happy with their oral/dental hygiene.
  • 72.16% feel that they could do more.
  • “Time constraints” (42.86%) and “laziness” (19.52%) continue to be the top 2 reasons cited for not improving their dental care routine.

WHO THINKS GOOD ORAL HEALTH HABITS ARE IMPORTANT?

Our different generations begin to stand out when we look at their attitude toward good oral health habits. The 36 and up crowd overwhelmingly (80.41%) views cleaning their teeth as an “important” aspect of their routine.

The 25 and under crowd pales in comparison at 55.83%. Those under 25 view “preventing bad breath” (48.06%) and the “pressure to have white teeth” (43.69%) as influential. The data suggests that this age group may be more concerned with the impression their dental health has on others than with the consequences it poses to their overall health.

This same young age group also admitted to spending as little time as they could on cleaning their teeth (19.9%), with 15.53% saying sometimes they forget to do it at all!

 

chart 3
Courtesy of Streetbees

The numbers reflect a stronger consideration of good oral health habits in the older Millennial age group, ages 26-35. This shows a shifting perception of importance as we age.

WHY DO ORAL HEALTH HABITS DIFFER?

There are a myriad of reasons behind why someone has the oral hygiene practices they do. According to the California Dental Association, each generation interprets information differently and requires a dental practice to be flexible and provide their optimal experience. The optimal experience for each generation varies quite a bit:

  • The CDA finds that Boomers prefer thorough explanations, communicating in person or via telephone, and taking their time to meet with the dentist.
  • Gen Xers are adept navigators of electronic communications. They respond to whole-health approaches when it comes to aging and oral health problems.
  • Millennials and Generation Z are accustomed to having the information they want available at their fingertips. Dentists should take steps to interact with these patients electronically.
  • Adjust to their fast-paced lives to best accommodate them. Satisfy their need for instant-gratification with online appointment options or in-office technology advancements.

FUTURE PLANNING OF ORAL HEALTH

Future planning is another consideration in the debate over who has the best oral health. “Future planning” refers to having a plan in place for the future of your oral health. Working Millennials have resources at hand to maintain or fix their oral health. They are likely to have concern for the state of their mouth when they’re older.

Baby Boomers in retirement with dwindling funds available through social security have different considerations. They share these with the Gen X group staring down retirement.

According to Dr. Steve Mascarin, a doctor of dental surgery, retirement and the “loss of dental benefits” is the primary concern for those generations. With life expectancy on the rise, good oral health habits are as important as ever.

SO, WHICH GENERATION HAS THE BEST ORAL HEALTH?

That’s not really something we can answer in a word. A person’s oral health can depend on many factors, some they control and some they can’t. It includes when they were born, what their parents’ habits were, their health care expectations, their technology use, and more.

Which generation is more inclined to practice good oral health habits? Well, at the moment, that seems to be Baby Boomers! They’re entering a period of their life where a dental routine is more critical than Gen X, Gen Y, or Gen Z.

Is your oral health routine the best it can be? Check out our blog for more oral health tips.