The “Mythical” New Dental Patient: Age and Race

Gallup completed a survey in 2013 about dentist visits and contrasted the results with the results from a 2008 survey.

The big news is that some 35 percent of U.S. residents don’t see a dentist in the course of a year. That’s a huge untapped market. I covered the results by race in my previous post. Let’s examine the results by two very important demographics to help you zero in on new patient prospects.

 

Results by Age

The older you are, the MORE likely you are to go to the dentist…

UNTIL you reach age 65. Then you are less likely than all but the youngest group.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • About 62.5 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds went to the dentist in the last year.
  • That number increases to about 64 percent of 30- to 44-year-olds.
  • It increases further to about 66.7 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds.
  • Then dips again to about 63.5 percent of those 65 and older.

There are lots of factors at work here.

Maybe this is based on affluence, with the idea that that older you are, the more money you have to spend on things like dentistry UNTIL you get to retirement age, when you want to conserve your nest egg.

Maybe it is because the older you get, the more dental problems come to the surface and the more you NEED to see the dentist, UNTIL you get to 65, when some people are willing to accept that they may start losing teeth.

There are probably many factors involved.

Even more interesting than the numbers, though, are the differences in just those five years.

For instance, from 2008 to 2013 the number of 18- to 29-year-olds who went to the dentist in a year is virtually unchanged. But the number drops by 3.5 percent from 2008 to 2013 for 30-to 44-year-olds and 2.3 percent for 45-year-olds. And the number actually INCREASES by 4.3 percent from 2008 to 2013 for those older than 65.

There are any number of reasons for these changes. But no matter what the reasons, they come with opportunity, especially those aged 65 and older.

Results by Income

Money may not buy happiness, but it does buy dental appointments  – at least according to results of the Gallup poll. The percentages of people who went to the dentist based on income isn’t that surprising.

The higher your household income, the more likely you are to go to the dentist.

For instance, about 43 percent of those with household incomes below $12,000 went to the dentist in both 2008 and 2013. Conversely, about 82 percent of those with household incomes above $120,000 went to the dentist at least once in both years.

Gallup broke the incomes down into eight categories by about $12,000 increments, and the percentage who went to the dentist went up as income went up. I won’t bore you with all the details.

But here is where it gets interesting.

Almost all of the eight income categories saw some degree of decrease from 2008-2013, and it bell curves right in the middle

The change between 2008 and 2013 is less than 1 percent for those making less than $12,000 per year and peaks at the $36,000-$48,000 per year household income, decreasing 4.2 percent from 2008 to 2013.

From there the difference becomes less and less between 2008 to 2013 all the way to those with greater than $120,000 income, which was virtually unchanged at an increase of 0.2 percent from 2008 to 2013.

So do we look at those in the $36,000-$48,000 annual household income and say they were hit hardest by the economic downturn? Maybe. Again, there are probably multiple factors to consider.

What we can take away from this is that there are opportunities to attract those people in the middle income brackets back to the dentist. There are different opportunities to attract those at the higher ends of the income spectrum who haven’t stopped going to the dentist.

Next Tuesday’s post will look at results by location and marital status, and on Thursday I’ll discuss how to use these numbers to attract more and better patients to your practice.




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About the author
Colin Receveur is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and dental web marketing expert who has pioneered the way dentists market themselves online for the past decade. Since incorporating in 2001, Colin has established a rock solid track record with his dentist clients and turned SmartBox into a stalwart of proven results for hundreds of dental practices.