Baby Boomers & Dentures: From Toothless Poverty To Being Their Own Tooth Fairy
Baby Boomers & Dentures: From Toothless Poverty To Being Their Own Tooth Fairy
Every generation is apportioned its definable character; usually based on the dreamy, creamy crop of it. Those with the opportunity, the brains, the background or the money typifying that particular era. One name often codes the archetype of its time: Hemingway, JFK, Cobain, Zuckerberg, Musk. For Gen Z, 2023’s Forbes List names fifteen billionaires under the age of 30 (unheard of in boomer town).
Red Bull heir Mark Mateschitz on top with $US38.3 billion. All of it made by his almost-boomer dad, born just two years shy of 1946 to school teacher parents.
It was generational theorists Neil Howe and William Strauss that formed a provocative theory in the late 1990s of a new social mood being created about every two decades. Every fourth turning (i.e 80 years) there comes urgent and divisive civic upheaval that essentially marks a social rebirth.
On that basis, it’s millennials this time; destined to confront the economical and political temperatures set by the boomers. Either way, it sure feels like something weird is going on …
Baby boomers changed the world.
It’s credit taken by anyone born between 1946 and 1964, whether or not they were old enough or politically motivated enough, challenged the existing social norms of the times or valued individuality over conformity. It was they who first began questioning gender roles. They protested in support of civil and consumer rights, and ended a war. Boomers created new cultural value preferences and melded style and politics with music.
For the most part, it’s a generation that has enjoyed full employment, affordable housing and economic success.
They’re healthier, wealthier, and better educated than their parents and grandparents. They’ve supercharged the consumer revolution their entire life: as babies, teenagers, and mid-lifers; and they see no reason to stop now. Although age still brings physical and cognitive changes like it has for those before them, the difference with boomers is the determination that it shall not weary them.
Even as a member of that generation himself, US political consultant and commentator Paul Begala states what he claims is the simple truth: “Baby boomers are the most self-centred, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-aggrandising generation in history… If they were animals, they’d be a plague of locusts, devouring everything in their path and leaving but a wasteland. If they were plants, they’d be kudzu, choking off every other living thing with their sheer mass…”
Kinda like someone of higher-weight and larger body screaming that they’re fat.
In the beginning it was all hippiedom, rock ‘n roll, and dropping acid and the Pill amid demands for environmental protections and laws.
In the end, it’s conservatism, consumerism, ‘Good times before the facial lines’ Spotify playlists and Viagra. Boomers did change many things, and won so many rights, then turned around and bought blue-chip mining stocks and Apple shares.
They’ve been puzzling to themselves and to the rest of world since then. Who are they? If their high point was in their 20s and 30s, what’s their second act?
Face-lifts have replaced face offs, it’s lipo with the lippy, opioids instead of opium and dental implants not dentures. In the same way boomers have always refused to grow up, they’re refusing to grow old.
It’s a generation that has never been satisfied with what their parents settled for. Baby boomers increasingly opt for the expensive – whether it’s house and holidays, or clothes and food. The ‘me generation’ demands more choice, and better quality.
When it comes to professional oral care, the ageing baby boomers are still rebelling.
Sometimes they’re making up for the dentistry denied them as adolescents because of the greater financial stress on their parents. After decades and decades of managing overcrowded or crooked teeth, they finally get them fixed.
This prolonged dental denial often includes overcoming memories of a much more invasive, much less painless experience that dentistry was for them as children and young adults. Early baby boomers didn’t have the cavity prevention and pain assistance that’s taken for granted today; consequently, it’s a demographic with a largely deep-seated aversion to dentistry.
Health and vanity have helped fight their fear of the dentist’s chair, now that they want treatments that give them a better chance of keeping their own teeth, and options for a more natural, more youthful-looking smile.
It’s a particular group that’s more than open to dental hygienists explaining disease prevention, maintenance strategies, and procedural options and processes: they’re patients who are concerned with health improvement and staying healthy.
Boomers love detailed descriptions that have them understand.
The first of the boomers to reach 65 happened in 2011. Since then, there’s been a steady stream of retirees who’ve paid off their mortgages, and have experienced astronomical increases in the value of their homes. They don’t want the constraints of bad teeth or dentures on their road trips, international flights, bungee jumps, snorkelling and dictating what they can order in a restaurant.
At the core of a baby boomer is never having liked being told what they can and can’t do.
It’s precisely what got them to change the paradigms and the politics, love more freely, have kids later, divorce easier and take up marathons in their 50s.
They’re a diverse group. Some are currently retired, others are working on second careers, many are empty nesters, and due to death or divorce, there are still others starting new families or back on the dating scene.
It’s this type of multiplicity and financial stability that allows them to be demanding consumers.
They insist on convenience, client orientation and consumer control. Without it, they don’t hesitate to walk away from services or health care providers.
Earlier boomers want instruction; later boomers want information.
All boomers are likely to be wellness focused, and want influence over their health care decisions. When they’re not satisfied with the advice given, or the received treatment (in both the literal and figurative sense) they’ll keep searching until they are.
It’s what has them very receptive to alternative medicines and therapies.
This includes improving their diet and exercise regimens because they’re so interested in their appearance. Most of them can’t believe how old they really are.
Late boomers use the internet to research the most recent dental technology available to them. They tend to reject amalgams in favour of more aesthetic, less toxic materials like all-porcelain crowns.
They’re comfortable paying for more expensive dental procedures – whether necessary or cosmetic – because they’ve grown up with the belief that ‘you get what you pay for’ along with the added assurance of being savvy consumers very aware of their rights.
Mostly, they got them for us.
Boomers believe that a beautiful smile can surmount the appearance of aging.
They see an attractive smile as being more youthful. More than 60% would spend on their teeth rather than on weight loss or plastic surgery.
They’re making up for any previous dental neglect by adhering to those six-monthly appointments and adopting really good home oral hygiene practices. Often they’ll invest in water piks, and the very best in electric toothbrushes and dental products.
Along with dental implants in preference to dentures, this is a demographic that opts for porcelain veneers, cosmetic bonding, porcelain crowns and regular teeth whitening. When you’re cheering yourself on with lots of red wine and barista coffees, you have to.
For the generation that vowed never to trust anyone over 30, they’re eating those words with very, very nice teeth.
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