Delta Dental of Arizona Adult Oral Health Survey Reveals Generational Differences, Similarities Among Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Z as it Relates to Health and Wellness
By Alison Bailin -
Monday Oct 16, 2023
Certainly, the generational gap between Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Z as it relates to technology, the workplace and even fashion choices has been well documented. But as it relates to oral health? Just in time for Dental Hygiene Month, observed nationally each October, Delta Dental of Arizona released its 2023 Adult Oral Health Survey and in it reports that the ways in which individuals think about oral health and approach their own care is directly linked to their generation.
While most Arizonans (77%) understand the direct connection between oral health and overall health in general, Baby Boomers are less likely than other generations to know of the connection oral health has to dementia, kidney disease, chronic lung disease, high blood pressure and respiratory health. Baby Boomers are also more likely to brush their teeth in order to prevent tooth decay (80% versus 60%), while younger generations list cosmetic reasons along with preventative measures.
Additional generational findings:
Baby Boomers are more likely than younger generations to floss because it was recommended by their dentist (80% versus 57%), whereas Gen X is most likely to floss simply because it was something they were taught growing up (54% versus 33%).
Baby Boomers and Gen X are significantly more likely than Millennials to agree that preventative checkups reduce the chances of experiencing serious dental health issues (71% versus 47%).
Gen X and Millennials are afraid to go to the dentist in higher numbers than Baby Boomers and, curiously, Gen Z (20% versus 7%).
Gen X and Millennials are the most likely to have lost sleep due to a dental issue than Baby Boomers and Gen Z (31% versus 16%).
Each of the younger generations are more likely than Baby Boomers to agree that having dental insurance is essential to protecting one’s health (88% versus 70%).
Millennials and Gen Z are most likely to want better coverage for braces and retainers than their older counterparts (47% versus 12%).
The research also shows increased participation in oral health trends. Gen Z is driving the use of eco-friendly and non-traditional oral health products like bamboo or plant-based toothbrushes.
“Arizonans are becoming more aware of the vital link between oral health and overall well-being. This understanding about holistic wellness is influencing at-home oral health care and increasing routine, preventive visits to the dentists,” said Michael Jones, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Arizona. “To advance our mission to create a better path to health and wellness, Delta Dental of Arizona is focused on engaging the community around whole person health, supporting innovative programs and providing equitable access to care.”
The vast majority of all Arizonans polled have experienced cavities at some point in their lives (83%), but insured Arizonans are less likely to develop serous health issues, annoyances and cosmetic concerns than those who are uninsured (34% insured versus 40% insured). The majority of Arizonans polled, no matter their age, are aware of the benefits they wish to be included in their insurance coverage, prioritizing two free preventative cleanings (74%, up 9% year over year), followed by the ability to rollover any unused portion of the plan maximum (53%, up 7% year over year), and better coverage for oral surgery (52%, up 8% year over year). Cost and affordability, regardless of the age of the polled respondents, continue to be the biggest barriers for Arizonans who do not have dental insurance, with nearly four in 10 of those currently uninsured say it is because they cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs or the monthly payment.
“The report reinforces the importance of the evolution that Delta Dental of Arizona is undergoing, transforming from a single-line insurance company to a multi-line health and wellness company,” said Jones. “Delta Dental of Arizona is focused on removing barriers to care by offering dependable value and unique solutions while investing in programs that create a path to wellness for all Arizonans with organizations such as A.T. Still University Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, Pacific Dental Services Foundation Dentists for Special Needs, Banner Foundation, St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Northern Arizona University College of Dental Hygiene, Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health, and more.”