The state of health care in America is rockier than it has ever been in the lifetime of the millennial generation. Of course, the health care issue affects nearly everyone in the country, so many parents of millennials are also struggling to help provide their adult children insurance or affordable care or guide them into their own coverage. The American Dental Academy’s recently released fact sheet “Oral Health and Well-Being in the United States“ shows that millennials’ health-care obstacles may have a serious effect on their dental health.
Affordability at the Heart of the Problem
The ADA report revealed that 30 percent of young adults have untreated tooth decay, the highest of any age group. In addition, they are three times more likely to lack dental care due to financial reasons than children. Low wages, student loan debt and a high number of non-traditional career roles for millennials such as self-employment and freelancing lead to little to no access to dental insurance.
During the survey, participants were asked why they don’t seek dental care; the foremost reasons cited by the millennials in the study were cost, location and time. Previous studies have shown that this generation places a high level of importance on value in regards to low cost and convenience, so it makes sense that these were the leading obstacles in millennials obtaining the oral health care they need.
The Most Self-Conscious Generation?
While no surveys have been conducted to determine if millennials are the most self-conscious generation yet, their social media footprint and obsession with selfies does suggest this may be possible. The 2016 “Singles in America“ survey conducted by the dating service Match.com found that 42 percent of singles judge potential dates based on their photos and 37 percent judge them on their smile and teeth.
“This combination of a generation that places great value on appearance and yet can’t or won’t access the oral care they need is alarming,” said Dr. Ken Collins, DDS, a leading cosmetic dentist in Spokane, Washington.
“Not spending the money that is necessary to maintain a healthy mouth in your youth can lead to big expenses, pain and a lot of work needed later in life,” he said.
Research shows, however, that finances and dental insurance may not improve as we age. In fact, the ADA study showed that millennials were less likely to have dental insurance than every age group except seniors.
Education on Importance of Care is Not an Issue
Perhaps your first thought was, “Millennials must not understand the importance of oral health care. If we can just educate them on how it affects their lives long term, maybe that will change their habits.” But the ADA study suggests that is not the case. It found that 97 percent of the adults surveyed said they valued oral health and 95 percent knew they needed to visit the dentist twice a year in order to maintain good oral health. Although 80 percent of adults aged 18 to 34 said they plan to visit the dentist within the next year, only 30 percent of them actually visited the dentist within the last year.
Or office in Spokane is located at:
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