America’s largest living generation is facing widespread oral health problems — problems so severe, they make life “less satisfying” for those affected. According to a recent study from the American Dental Association, one in three millennials (defined as adults between the ages of 18 to 34) is reluctant to smile because of tooth or mouth problems. Dr. Wayne Sutton of Sonoma Smiles delves deeper into this distressing study below.
What the ADA Found
The research arm of the ADA surveyed a group of American adults about their oral health status, attitudes and dental care utilization, and were particularly interested in what the millennial generation reported.
Here’s what they discovered:
- Millennials had the highest rate of untreated tooth decay (30 percent) of any age group surveyed.
- Thirty five percent of millennials reported they have trouble biting and chewing.
- Thirty three percent of millennials said they were reluctant to smile because of oral health problems.
- Thirty eight percent of millennials said they find life “less satisfying” because of oral health problems.
- Twenty eight percent of millennials believe the appearance of their teeth compromises their ability to interview for jobs.
Why are so many millennials experiencing oral health problems and related complications? The ADA learned that only 30 percent of millennials visit the dentist each year. Without preventative visits and professional cleanings, millennials put themselves at risk of serious problems including tooth decay and periodontal disease.
Why Are Millennials Reluctant to Visit the Dentist?
One reason why millennials don’t seek out the dental care they need is that they might assume that if they aren’t experiencing any pain, their oral health is not in question. This is misguided, as some dental problems develop and advance without causing any noticeable pain or symptoms. Regular dental exams are the only way to detect these types of problems.
Another reason why millennials may not seek out professional care is that they are more likely to Google symptoms or problems and self-diagnose themselves. Self-diagnosis could result in a serious problem worsening without any professional intervention.
Finally, millennials may be going without dental insurance coverage — perhaps because it is not offered through their employer or because they cannot afford the premiums. An ADA survey found that many millennials were confused by dental plan brochures and unfamiliar with the dental terms used in the literature.
Contact Dr. Wayne Sutton
Dr. Wayne Sutton believes that everyone deserves quality dental care and a smile they can be proud of — no matter what their age is. If you feel your smile holds you back in any way, Dr. Sutton invites you to schedule an appointment with him to discuss your concerns. Please call (707) 585-2555 or email Sonoma Smiles today to book your visit.
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(All photos of actual patients)