If you’re a member of Generation X (born between 1965-1979), you probably said goodbye to braces decades ago and feel like dentures are a lifetime away. And you might think you’re in the sweet spot between the ages when you need dental coverage the most.
Right now, it may be easy to take your oral health for granted if your biggest issues are just a cavity every once in a while. But research shows that Gen Xer’s diet, spending behaviors and stress levels can all affect their oral health — leading to more costly dental issues down the road.
74 million Americans don’t have dental insurance. And if you’re one of them, you could be paying more for the dental care you and your family need to stay healthy.
From saving money to improving your overall health, here are 4 key reasons you should buck the trend of other Gen Xers and invest in dental insurance today.
1. Your diet and dental health risks
You know the saying, “you are what you eat”? This saying also holds true for your teeth, too.
Over 95% of Gen Xers have experienced some form of tooth decay (like cavities). And one of the main causes of tooth decay for Gen Xer’s is diet.
Generation X prefers American comfort foods, stating their favorite foods are pizza and burgers. They’re also big fans of sweet drinks — about 13% of Gen Xers drink 1 or more sugar-sweetened beverage like soda or a fruit drink every day.
All that sugar doesn’t do great things for your blood sugar or your waistline, but it also is bad for your teeth. The acids and sugars in those sweet drinks can lead to tooth decay. And the type of carbohydrates found in burgers and pizza dough are also culprits in causing tooth decay.
In addition to sugars and carbs, a lack of nutrition can be bad for your oral health. If you’re like other Gen Xers who love American comfort foods, you’ll want to make sure your diet is well-rounded so you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals your body (including your mouth and teeth) needs to stay healthy.
People with diets lacking in necessary nutrients such as protein, calcium, iron, and Vitamins A & D are more susceptible to poor oral health, as those vitamins and minerals help in the development of tooth structure and connective tissues in the mouth.
Routine cleanings covered by a dental insurance plan can help you address any oral health problems caused by diet as soon as they appear, saving you money down the road.
2. Your oral health and your overall health
Your oral health can have a big impact on your overall health. And for the nearly 100% of Gen Xers with cavities, almost 30% of adults between 20 and 64 have untreated tooth decay.
Untreated cavities can eventually lead to gum disease. With gum disease, the bacteria from your mouth can spread to other parts of your body, and cause inflammation and infection in the heart.
This is especially bad news for Gen Xers, as they are already twice as likely to experience a stroke than baby boomers are. This increased risk is due to more prevalent diabetes and obesity in Gen Xers, along with a lack of taking prescribed medications.
Gum disease can also play a role in the progression of diabetes, as the condition has the potential to affect control of blood glucose. And along with poor oral health, diabetes can increase your likelihood of getting a cardiovascular disease.
Dental insurance can help you catch tooth decay early before it can affect other parts of your body. Research shows that Americans with dental insurance are more likely to visit the dentist, take their children to the dentist, and experience greater overall health than those without coverage.
3. Dental insurance saves you money
The average Gen Xer has a savings of about $200,000 less than what’s recommended by financial experts to ensure stability and protection in the case of unexpected bills.
And when it comes to unexpected costs, medical bills are one of the top reasons Americans are in debt.
Without insurance, a routine cleaning typically costs between $75 and $200. Dental X-rays can add another $100 to $300 to your bill. And more expensive procedures like dental bridges or crowns can cost anywhere from $500 to $3000 per tooth.
Plus, if you’re uninsured, you’re likely to miss out on early diagnosis and treatment options thanks to missing out on routine cleanings. This could lead to needing more expensive treatments like tooth extractions or dentures.
Even if you’re in good oral health now, the relatively low cost of a dental insurance plan can save you a lot of money thanks to preventive care coverage (and help covering the costs of serious treatments later in life).
4. Dental insurance helps reduce stress
As a member of Generation X, at times you probably feel like you’ve got the weight of the world upon your shoulders. You’re not alone — Gen Xers report experiencing the highest levels of stress of any generation.
Maybe you’re dealing with an expensive mortgage (Generation X spends more on housing than any other age group), or figuring out how to pay for your kids’ college (it’s recommended you save $20,000-$60,000 per child to cover their higher education).
You might also be struggling to get that promotion as the baby boomers ahead of you aren’t in a rush to leave the workplace — which plays a big part in why Gen Xers are having trouble saving for retirement.
You can’t eliminate all the financial or emotional stress in your life. But with dental insurance, you can relieve some of the stress of savings.
With benefits like free cleanings every year, you can rest assured you and your family will receive preventive care you need to curb cavities early so you may avoid paying for fillings, extractions or bridges out-of-pocket.
Considering the importance your dental health plays in your overall health (and the health of your savings), the decision to invest in dental insurance as a Gen Xer is an easy one.