The “baby boomer” demographic covers a wide age range, including individuals in their early-50s to mid-60s. Accordingly, there are currently many baby boomers in the workplace, and they have different dental care needs than other generations, such as millennials and Generation Z.
Because each generation’s dental and health care needs differ, organizations must take each group’s unique needs into consideration. Here’s a look at baby boomers’ preferences when it comes to dental care, and how HR representatives can use this information to improve benefits and engagement.
Baby Boomers Are Familiar With Dental Care
Unlike some other demographics, baby boomers tend to be very knowledgeable about dental health. In fact, many individuals in this age group have better dental health than previous generations; nearly 80 percent of baby boomers still have their natural teeth, which indicates that they’re familiar with dental procedures and restorations.
According to a 2015 survey by the American Dental Association (ADA), 77 percent of baby boomers said they planned to visit the dentist within the next year, and 43 percent visited the dentist within the previous year. This percentage is about on par with other age groups, so baby boomers are definitely not averse to seeing a dentist—even if they don’t always get around to it. In fact, many people in this generation have received dental care for much of their lives, so they’re quite familiar with it.
Baby Boomers Are Healthy and Happy, But Oral Health Might Not Be a Top Priority
Baby boomers have a lot going for them. In general, they’re wealthier, healthier and happier than previous generations when they were the same age. They tend to eat better and are more active. However, as they age, their dental problems will naturally accumulate. According to the ADA, baby boomers are more likely to experience issues with dry mouth and have difficulty biting or chewing. Some may even also avoid smiling because of dental issues.
Aging can reduce individuals’ ability to fight infections and heighten their need for medications that affect oral health. Growing older can also increase a person’s risk of periodontal disease. Not all baby boomers are ready for this; if they retire or if their income decreases, dental care might be the first thing to get dropped.
What Baby Boomers Need to Know About Dental Care
Because many baby boomers are familiar with dental care, they don’t need to overcome a fear of it or ignorance about it (like some younger generations might need to). Instead, they will need to be educated on the impact aging can have on their dental health—so they can continue to make dental care a priority. If your organization offers a good dental plan and teaches baby boomers in the workplace about it, they’ll be more likely take advantage of the available coverage.
How to Communicate Benefits With Baby Boomers in the Workplace
Baby boomers are a proud group. They tend to be workaholics who are optimistic and ready to embrace technology. However, they still prefer in-person communication. This means that when you’re discussing health and dental benefits with colleagues in this age group, you should start with a one-on-one meeting or small group information session.
Give baby boomers a chance to learn face-to-face and ask questions in person. If they’re offsite or working remotely, a live webinar meeting or a series of phone calls might also be helpful. They’ll likely be happy to embrace the technological aspect of a dental plan (including using apps and online websites) but they might need to be taught how to do so first.
When it comes to communicating about dental health plans, individuals in the baby boomer generation pay attention. They’re familiar with dental care and are ready and willing to embrace a good dental plan. They just need to be educated about why it’s even more important to have good oral health at their age. Then you can walk them through how to use the technological side of your plan. Once you teach baby boomers about your dental plan, they’re likely to keep using it in the future.
Looking for tools and resources that can help your colleagues manage their dental benefits? Check out the Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website.