Stay Away. Get Decay: First Choice Dental Group Says Millennials Who Avoid the Dentist Face Increased Dental Health Risks
MADISON, Wis. (August 16, 2010) - Your smile is like your handshake, your first impression. For Millennials, adults age 20-34, taking care of that first impression is not top-of-mind. A hard-hit economy and research showing a lax understanding of the link between oral care and overall health may be jeopardizing job opportunities and health later in life. A study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows only a little more than 50 percent of adults age 20-34 have been to the dentist within the past year, as compared to more than 62 percent of adults ages 35-64.
"The general rule is, Stay away. Get decay," says Dr. Robert Bradley, a dentist at First Choice Dental Group. "We have seen patients in that Millennial age group who need major dental work because they have failed to see a dentist for several years."
What's shocking, notes the NHANES survey, is that among adults age 20-64, Millennials are the segment with the highest percentage of untreated decay in permanent teeth. The Millennials, also known as Generation Y, comprise the largest segment of the population since the Baby Boomers, nearly 80 million. A 2007 Robert Half International study of Generation Y found this generation likes to work in teams, are avid digital communicators and they are protective of their life/work balance. They also don't visit their dentist. Recent research indicates that adults age 20-34 are more likely to have avoided the dentist for 2-3 years. But sadly, the "stay away, get decay" adage has held true. Among adults age 20-64, Millennials are the segment with the highest percentage of untreated decay in permanent teeth.
No pain, no problem? Think again.
"People think 'no pain, no problem'," says Bradley. "The truth is, many dental health issues advance without pain until it's very serious and requires more invasive and often more expensive treatment."
No mouth pain doesn't necessarily mean there isn't a problem. In fact, when teeth or gums do begin to cause pain or discomfort, it could be signs of a bigger issue. More than 85 percent of people in that Millennial age group have dental decay, missing or filled permanent teeth. These dental issues are all the more reason to see your dentist.
"Like your overall health, dental health is all about prevention," says Bradley. "Regular dental hygiene visits and exams every six months, as well as the at-home brushing and flossing, can alleviate many oral issues that can arise without proper care. Our smile, that first impression, should be an easy and painless way to stay healthy."
Sip all day. Get decay.
Stay away from the dentist for too long, and the risk of dental decay increases. But another culprit is what we drink. The Millennial age group is more likely than older adults to drink soft drinks and citrus or sports energy drinks. The average American drinks more than 53 gallons of soft drinks each year, more than any other beverage including milk, beer, coffee or water.
"Phosphoric acid in soda and citric acid in citrus drinks can cause tooth enamel corrosion. And the sugar can cause cavities," says Bradley. "Instead, drink water for a healthy smile."
Beverage-induced decay is so common that there's term for it, well known among dentists. "Soda Mouth" is named for soft drinks because of the dental health issues it can cause.
"Just a few weeks ago, we had a 40-year-old patient who had to have all his teeth removed due to Soda Mouth," Bradley said. "He was an all-day sipper for years and it eventually caught up with him. Now he faces the remainder of his adult life with dentures."
Bottled water is better than no water, and certainly better than juice or soda. However Bradley cautions that one advantage most tap water has over bottled water is that it contains fluoride. If you filter your water at home, you should select a water filtration system that won't filter out fluoride or purchase bottled water that contains fluoride.
Millennial more likely to self diagnose
For many young Americans, dental health is something they don't think they need to worry about. Many are living on their own for the first time, and a visit to the dentist is not at the top of the to-do list. Nearly 75 percent of this age-group has used the Internet to research health-related issues. As a result, this age group is also more likely to diagnose any dental issues themselves. More than 1-in-4 adults age 20-34 say their teeth and mouth condition is "excellent or very good." Nearly 40 percent rate their own mouth and teeth condition as "good". While these young adults may think they have excellent or good oral health, na"ive optimism or poor self-diagnosis could cost them in the long run.
"It's risky to let any health care issue slide," says Bradley. "Particularly when it's easy and painless to set up regular appointments."
First Choice Dental Group, SC, has 10 convenient locations throughout Dane, Green and Rock counties. With a commitment to lifetime treatment planning and total comfort dental care, First Choice Dental has received numerous accolades including, "Best Place to Work" and several "Best Dentist" awards. In addition to general dentistry, First Choice Dental offers orthodontics, endodontics, cosmetic dentistry, sedation and implant services. First Choice Dental Group is proud to participate in an effort to increase the safety of youth athletes by building awareness of mouth guard use through the GameFace Mouth GuardTM program. For more information about First Choice Dental Group, including a comprehensive list of doctors, office locations and details about dental services, visit www.firstchoicedental.com. Follow us on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/firstchoicedental