In a recently published study conducted by Delta Dental Plans Association, the 2023 State of America’s Oral Health and Wellness Report, data collected revealed that although oral health is considered a critical component of overall health, there are generational differences in oral health knowledge and oral health care practices.
The study surveyed both adults and parents of children aged 12 and under in the United States. Its aim was to gain understanding on how these audiences think about their or their children’s oral health and what they do to properly take care of it both at home and with their dentist.
Notably, younger Generation Z had a slightly weaker understanding of the connection between oral and overall health, possibly due to the fact they had less experience with dental issues, Baby boomers, on the other hand, were less informed about specific overall health issues connected to poor dental health, like diabetes, stroke and kidney disease. Further, Gen Z was almost twice as likely as Boomers to invest in non-traditional or eco-friendly oral tools like teeth whiteners, electric water flossers and bamboo toothbrushes.
One finding from the study I found to be a silver lining in the pandemic was renewed focus on oral health. Data revealed that 59% of adults and 67% of parents claimed they or their children plan on maintaining better dental hygiene habits that they developed during that time. However, the survey also acknowledged that there is still much work to be done when it comes to flossing or rinsing with only 31% of adults and 55% of children flossing daily and 37% and 56% respectively using mouthwash daily.
Overall, it appears the state of oral health in our nation is encouraging. However, one crucial finding underscores the importance of our mission to increase access to dental insurance for all: while 85% of adults and 86% of children with dental insurance seek out a dentist for oral health care, a significantly lower percentage of 64% and 72% respectively without insurance visit the dentist.
We are on the right track, but as a community, there is still work to be done to highlight the importance of good oral health care practices and to ensure that access to dental care is a right not a privilege for all. Everyone deserves a healthy smile!