A recent study reveals that millennials are losing out on a social life, thanks to the agonies and embarrassment of poor dental health.
Unsightly teeth and painful, puffy gums are putting paid to socialising for one in five of them, with one in three young adults aged 18 to 34 reluctant to smile.
It's even affecting job prospects, with 28% confessing how they look is impacting negatively on their performance at job interviews.
Apparently, the poll – conducted by the American Dental Association – says more than 30% of young adults have untreated tooth decay (the highest of any age group) with 35% struggling with biting and chewing.
A whopping 38% found life in general ‘less satisfying’ due to teeth and mouth problems and, shockingly, only 30% of millennials visit the dentist each year.
Tooth pain was the most common dental complaint.
Christina Chatfield is one of Comparethetreatment’s oral health experts and owner of Brighton’s Dental Health Spa. She’s not surprised by the statistics.
She says: ‘Millennials are far more questioning of things and more technology savvy. They glean a lot of their information from the internet, which means the days of going to the dentist to check on the health of their teeth are long gone. Also, many simply do not want to pay a dentist “to tell them to get their teeth cleaned”.
‘This is also the age that many of us head for university and avoid regular dental appointments, with clubbing and drinking part of student culture. They are the age group with the highest number of non-attendance and very often I don’t see them again until they are in their mid-30s.
‘However, I like to use the car MOT analogy – and, while you may be told by a mechanic that you need brake pads done “shortly”, leave it any longer than you should and you’ll be landed with a bigger, more expensive problem only to find that you'll also need discs done – turning an £80 job into a £400 one.
‘For some people, they perceive dentistry as “expensive” but it’s far more cost effective if you attend regularly to stop any problems getting worse. We should consider dental visits as we do our regular check-up at the opticians.
‘And don’t be fooled into believing your teeth are healthy as there is no pain. Dental decay does not necessarily mean pain in the first instance, so it is important to attend dental appointments regularly to let the professionals keep an eye on the health of your mouth.
‘Lifestyle habits can impact on dental health – alcohol has a big impact as does smoking and recreational drugs. This age range is also the most at risk from the HPV virus, which causes 5% of all cancers – oral, cervical, anal, penile, vaginal and vulval.
‘Poor dental health can also impact on the way you look. Dry, ageing, stained, dehydrated and decayed teeth are often the result of problems that haven’t been addressed when they were smaller and less significant. The message is: don’t wait until it gets painful.
Christina also explains that self-confidence can be knocked by having an unhealthy mouth, which impacts on social interaction that increases stress levels that further causes problems with teeth and gums.
She explains: ‘Stress can lead to an increase in smoking and alcohol. We may also not feel like exercising and we may opt for an unhealthy diet. It can also lead patients to neglect their oral hygiene and, if a patient already has poor gum disease, the problem is likely to be exacerbated. Put simply, disease is all about prevention.’
Fellow oral health expert and hygienist Mel Prebble also recognises the trend. She says: ‘The world is a highly pressurised place – every street corner has a coffee shop, every gym sells sports drinks; it's just so simple to eat, drink and work on the go!
‘There are also pressures to achieve, climb social and professional ladders, pay back loans, take out mortgages and this daily grind increase stress.
‘Commonly teeth grinding, jaw pain and poor oral hygiene and dietary habits are noticed. I see a small percentage of millennials – some attend regularly and some irregularly down to pressures and finances, I guess. Prevention is better than treatment so visiting a hygienist will help reduce the risk of dental bills and keep you healthy.
‘There is little doubt that a healthy, white smile leads to confidence. It's often life changing. Imagine never being able to smile or covering your mouth. It hinders self-confidence, careers aspirations and overall well-being. So, book an appointment today.’
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