The Oral Health Habits of the Baby Boomer Generation

***UPDATED: October 30, 2013***  While Obamacare is expected to help millions of Americans purchase health insurance for the first time, dental insurance is not included in the health care reform law.  Studies have shown that people who have dental insurance are more likely to get regular dental care, but unfortunately, only about 2% of older Americans actually carry dental coverage, according to a recent CNN Health article.  Beth Truett, president and CEO of Oral Health America believes that there is an unimaginable tragedy on our hands because folks just don’t recognize how important dental care is to overall health.  Truett’s organization recently published a report, “State of Decay: Are older Americans coming of age without oral health care?” which describes how baby boomers are at a real risk of facing serious oral health problems over the next decade.  For more information and to find the report, check out http://www.toothwisdom.org/action.

If you check out the latest news in the dental industry, chances are you’ll come across talk of the great “Dental Divide” and the oral disease epidemic that seems to be sweeping the globe.  Access to dental care is a hot topic, especially when it comes to the kids of America.  There are stories about public school initiatives to address oral health as well as several foundations and/or events with a mission to raise awareness of the importance of good oral hygiene.  But you don’t see too many stories about the oral health of the baby boomer generation.  The 50-plus population just doesn’t get talked about much.  Maybe that’s why Crest® and Oral-B® Pro-Health® For Life™ teamed up with AARP to research how this generation feels about oral health.  Regardless of why they did it, their findings were very interesting.

The survey was conducted by AARP and included a total of 503 participants.  Respondents were placed in two groups, Boomer (aged 48-66) and Mature (67+), and asked 25 questions related to oral care.  Results were then discussed in a recent DentistryIQ article.  The study found that 75% of participants view oral health as being “very important” to overall health concerns.  74% indicated that they visit the dentist at least twice a year, with 78% adding that they do so more than they did 10 years ago.  While this data paints a pretty picture about oral health awareness, the study also found areas that have room for improvement.  While visiting the dentist is an integral piece in the dental care puzzle, brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash are also important.  According to study data, only 60% of participants use mouthwash daily, 47% do not floss regularly, and approximately 34% only brush once a day.  With numbers like these, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an initiative to get the grandparents of America to beef up their oral hygiene routine in the not-so-distant future.  Stay tuned.

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