I am sharing this very interesting article written by Diana Hembree which explores the issue of tooth decay in the millennial population. What in the world is happening with the millennial generation? It seems the focus is changing, from quality care, to what is more convenient for the consumer. What a shame.
The other issue I see here is a glaring lack of motivation on the part of millennials to correct issues which may interfere with their ability to secure gainful employment. I can’t help but think of descriptors for this crop of young adults such as lazy, entitled, and doomed.
Here is the link to the original article:
by Diana Hembree
Decaying teeth and gum problems make one in three young adults aged 18 to 34 (33%) reluctant to smile, the ADA found. About one in five have cut back on socializing as a result of dental problems. And 28% say the appearance of their teeth and mouth undermines their ability to interview for a job.
The ADA study also found that:
— More than 30% of young adults have untreated tooth decay (the highest of any age group)
— 35% have trouble biting and chewing
— Some 38% of this age group find life in general “less satisfying” due to teeth and mouth problems.
— They are three times more likely than children to lack dental care due to financial reasons, with only 30% of millennials visiting the dentist each year.
The dental system is going to have to change to appeal to millennials “who are all about convenience,” periodontist and consultant to dental practitioners Marc Cooper writes on his website, masterycompany.com.
Millennials aren’t tied to the idea of a personal relationship with one dental practitioner; they are used to comparing service and costs and ordering on their smart phones — rather like calling up an Uber or Lyft — and they likely won’t tolerate inefficiency or long waits for appointments, Cooper added.
This may mean some major changes for dental providers. Today, approximately 92% of professionally active dentists work in a private practice, according to the ADA. In 2016, the ADA’s Health Policy Institute researchers surveyed millennials to gauge their interest in getting dental care in a retail setting, such as a CVS, Target or Walmart store. Overall, nearly 4 in 10 indicated that they were somewhat or very interested, including nearly half of Hispanics (47%) and African Americans (45%) surveyed.
“Millennials are not the same type of patient as a baby boomer,” says Vujicic. “We know millennials demand transparent cost and quality information when it comes to health care services. We know they place a premium on convenience.
“Health care is slow to adjust,” he added, “but the dental care system in particular is just starting to feel this wave of intensified consumerism.”
Change is already brewing: Beam Dental, a young tech company operating in about eight states with 100,000 dentists, focuses on prevention and online tools for “tech-savvy clients.” It offers coverage discounted by about 10 to 25% based partly on how well you practice good dental hygiene – which the company can monitor, with permission, through an internet-connected toothbrush that reports how often and how well you brush.
So far Beam Dental is available only through small and medium sized businesses who pay all or part of employee premiums, with a strong following among startups and millennial-oriented organizations, says Alex Frommeyer, co-founder and CEO.
“We knew that the dental industry was broken because there were over 100 million Americans without coverage,” Frommeyer says. He adds that he wants to offer affordable dental care while using online-based services “to incentivize people to invest in their own dental health.”
In the meantime, if you’re a cash-strapped millennial who needs dental care and lacks dental insurance, you may want to:
- Check out dental schools in your area, where dental care costs much less than services from private dentists
- Check out community college dental hygienist training programs for free or low-cost preventive care
- Ask your dentist about a payment plan for more expensive treatments such as fillings and crowns
- Charge your treatment to a low- or zero-interest credit card and pay it off before the interest rate goes up
- Apply for a healthcare financing credit card from CareCredit
- Look for a dental health fair in your area in which practitioners provide free dental screenings and care
- See whether your community health care center offers free or low-cost dental care
- Get treatment at the first sign of tooth pain, before it turns into something requiring a crown, root canal or emergency dental care.
MoneyGeek writer Judith Horstman contributed to this report. Horstman is a former Washington correspondent for Gannett and has written four books for Scientific American.