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Partnering with Gen Z patients to improve their oral and overall health

Aug. 17, 2023
According to this dentist, Gen Z doesn't entirely understand the oral-systemic connection. She's made it her mission to make sure they do, and here's how.

When it comes to prioritizing oral hygiene, adults from all generations share two primary reasons: preventing future dental issues and saving money in the long run.

However, there exists a noticeable gap in understanding the connection between oral health and overall wellness across different age groups. The recent 2023 State of America’s Oral Health and Wellness Report commissioned by Delta Dental Plans Association noted that 27% of Gen Z (people born between 1997 and 2012) did not know that oral health was related and important to overall health, or that good oral health enabled a healthier lifestyle.1

As a dentist, I see this as an opportunity for the dental profession to disseminate evidence and knowledge more effectively through platforms and methods that resonate with each generation.

Personalized health plays a pivotal role in addressing this gap, particularly in engaging Gen Z, who exhibit a strong interest in personalized approaches to health. I’ve had patients ask me about at-home dental programs such as oral hygiene product delivery kits.

They commonly use personalized health apps and programs for vitamins, facial products, and microbiome-hacking products. By tailoring health care, fitness, and wellness practices to individuals' specific needs and preferences, personalized health can facilitate impactful and consumer-friendly education and information dissemination.

You might also want to read: Focus on high touch; leverage high tech

Why Gen Z embraces personalized health

Access to information: Growing up in the digital age, Gen Z has easy access to information through the internet and social media. Platforms such as TikTok have become popular outlets for research and education on health-related topics, including personalized wellness approaches.

Health and wellness consciousness: Gen Z prioritizes their physical and mental well-being. They actively engage in regular exercise, adopt healthy eating habits, and seek ways to manage stress. Personalized health allows them to customize their routines to align with their unique goals and needs.

Technology adoption: Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up with advanced technology at their fingertips. Smartphones, wearables, and health-tracking apps enable them to monitor their health metrics, track fitness progress, and access personalized recommendations based on their data. 

Individuality and empowerment: Gen Z values individuality and self-expression. They seek solutions that cater to their specific needs, preferences, and beliefs, aligning with their desire for customization and autonomy in all aspects of their lives, including health care.

To effectively raise awareness about the vital connection between oral health and overall wellness, the dental community must actively engage patients as advocates, educators, and partners in their oral health journeys. By leveraging personalized health tools such as consumer-friendly salivary testing, we can provide immediate data and information to patients in a convenient and accessible manner. Tests such as Oral Genome can be conducted at home or in the dental office, giving individuals valuable insights within minutes.

By incorporating wellness tracking and developing personalized plans while emphasizing the oral-systemic connections in health, we can harness technology, consumer-friendly reports, and noninvasive, affordable, and quick testing to engage patients of all ages. This approach not only helps reduce the cost burden on our health-care system, but also contributes significantly to overall health improvements.

Imagine a partnership between dental professionals and patients that extends beyond traditional roles. By embracing our potential as providers of holistic health and wellness, we can bridge knowledge gaps across generations and make a lasting impact on oral health and overall well-being. Together, we can unlock the power of personalized health and create a healthier future for all.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the August 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

Reference

1. The 2023 State of America’s Oral Health and Wellness Report. Dental Dental. https://www.deltadental.com/us/en/state-of-americas-oral-health-report.html

About the Author

Tina Saw, DDS

As CEO of Oral Genome, Tina Saw, DDS, is forward thinking. A general dentist in Carlsbad, California, Dr. Saw focuses her practice on prevention. She founded Oral Genome so people can understand what affects their dental health and how to target salivary factors to reduce their risks for dental problems. Dr. Saw has been a guest speaker for many dental groups, and has appeared on Fox News, Yahoo, Shape Magazine, as well as CBS for providing someone with a life-changing smile transformation.

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