For Gen Z, oral care isn’t just about preventative treatment. It’s a self-care ritual. The oral care industry has already recognized this shift and started to follow it. They’re moving their products from the hygiene aisle to the beauty one as they recognize the impact proper care has on overall well-being. Your office also needs to make this shift to respond to patient demand.  Here are some things that you need to know about Gen Z oral care.

Dentists who provide oral care for Gen Z patients must have different strategies in providing complete care.
Figure 1: Dentists who provide oral care for Gen Z patients must have different strategies in providing complete care.

What You Need to Know About Gen Z Oral Care

Generation Z—made up of people born roughly between 1995 and 2010—is 72 million strong, with many entering adulthood and taking control of their oral health care for the first time. While Gen Z has a lot in common with other generations when it comes to dental treatment, there are some areas where they differ from those who came before.

They are more appearance focused.

While other generations state that the reason they practice good oral hygiene is oral health, Generation Z is a little bit different. The two big reasons individuals under 25 site practicing oral hygiene are to prevent bad breath and to whiten their teeth. While it's not the only factor, for this generation, appearance is a big part of their dental care goals.

They are digital natives.

Generation Z was the first generation to be born fully immersed in technology. Computers, smartphones, and all those other connected items have been part of their lives since they were born. Because of that, they're more likely to base an impression of a business on something they've seen online, whether it's the business's website, social media, or in their app. In fact, 40% of adult Gen Zers report that their purchase decisions are influenced by social media.

They are socially responsible.

One big thing that defines Generation Z is their search for truth. They dislike labels, are inclusive, and expect communication to be a two-way street. Their focus on social responsibility reflects in what they buy and where they work. This generation is more likely than any other to demand corporate social responsibility—the company’s promise to hold itself accountable for the social and environmental impact of its actions. Practices that support genuine diversity and inclusivity initiatives will appeal to this generation the most.

They are new to managing their own treatment.

Keep in mind that Gen Z is the youngest generation with adult members. For many, this is the first time they’ve been responsible for managing their own dental care. They may have their own insurance for the first time or are trying to navigate their parents. A good practice must be prepared to support them.


Elevating Your Patient Experience

To understand how to cater to Gen Z oral care needs, you need to delve into why they fall short in the first place. Top reasons they site for not practicing proper oral hygiene include:



Practices need to run like well-oiled machines to support Gen Z oral care. Here are some ways that they can help:


  • Provide proactive reminders: People new to managing their own dental care likely won’t know what follow-ups to schedule. Sending reminders when regular treatment is due, as well as how to schedule it, will go a long way to help. Keep in mind this is a digital native group, so your approach should be digital first. Mobile app reminders, texts, and email are the best ways to reach them, though direct mail can be used as a backup.


  • Keep treatment convenient: Gen Zers are strapped for time. That's the number one reason they report letting their oral care slide. You can help tackle this by making treatment convenient for them. Offer online portals where they can schedule their appointments or provide simple one click options for asking a question. Self-service, where they can update their insurance information and other important details themselves, is important to these patients.


  • Focus on patient education: Patient education is also critical because this is the first time many of them are taking ownership of their own health. They need to be taught the right way to take care of their teeth as well as how to navigate all their copays, deductibles, and coinsurance. Every visit should be an opportunity to educate them on these things and help them take control of their oral health care early.


  • Personalize your service: If you provide self-service portals and easy ways to give information about themselves online, you can also personalize the service a little more. More information on your patients, their health goals, finances, and oral health care practices can help you provide more detailed treatment plans.


  • Become part of the community: Your Gen Z patients have a higher expectation of social responsibility for the businesses they work with. You can display yours by getting involved in your community. Participate in charitable events, sponsor community days, and support worthy causes that help the people who live near your office. That builds trust with your patients and introduces you to new ones.


Dentists can support Gen Z oral care by addressing the reasons they let it slide. This emerging adult generation needs a lot of support as they take control of their care for the first time. They also expect simplicity, expertise, and activism from the companies they do business with. By supporting this generation with tools, education, and convenience, you can set them up for a lifetime of excellent oral health.