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Don’t Neglect Your Dental Health While Away at College

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

oral health tips while at college

Midterms are in full force, you are deep into your class load, the manager from your part time job is calling to see if you can pick up an extra shift, there are intramural sports to be played, and there’s plenty of partying to be done on the weekend. As a college student, you are busy, and you have all the freedom and independence you want to make your own health decisions. But now is not the time to let your dental health go by the wayside due to your tightly packed schedule.

A 2016 study of dental health practices in US college students found that 76% of students reported having at least one dental exam in the year prior to their survey. But the study also found that dental health care habits and regular dental visits declined annually following the students’ freshman years.

Students cited reasons such as having a healthy mouth and not feeling they needed dental care, not having the time to go to the dentist, and worries about the cost of their visit for the explanations as to why they were missing their regular checkups (1).

Unfortunately, putting your oral health on the backburner is not a good choice. When it comes to your mouth and teeth, prevention is always cheaper and easier than waiting until a problem arises. Regular checkups can allow us to find issues before you show signs of pain and more advanced dental disease.

College students are also at risk for oral health changes because of poor dietary choices, changes in routine, and putting off regular visits to the dentist. Even though there is a lot on your plate and even more on your mind, there is hope!

Try these tips to maintain good oral hygiene while you make your way through your college years!

Keep it real. Eat “real foods” rather than packaged and processed foods to help minimize unnecessary sugars. Snacks such as fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts or seeds are great choices (2).

Keep sugar to a minimum.  Avoid using sugar as a stress reliever. Increased sugar intake increases your risk for decay and cavities.

Watch your late night eating and hygiene habits. Avoid late night snacking, or falling asleep without brushing your teeth. This habit leaves sugars and acids in your mouth to wreak havoc on your enamel until morning. Leftover food particles also become a breeding ground for bacteria. Furthermore, this sets you up for a bad case of morning breath (3).

Remember to exercise! Also be sure to develop regular exercise and good sleep habits. These routines are important and helpful for managing stress levels and maintaining both dental health and overall health during your college years (2).

Look at your entire health. Minimize or avoid alcohol use and smoking. College students sometimes experiment with these two behaviors, both of which cause dry mouth, changes in the pH of the mouth, and an increased risk for tooth decay or gum disease (2). Alcohol abuse also makes it more likely that you will skip or forget your nighttime dental cleaning routine.

Start with water! Choose water over sodas, energy drinks, and other sugary drinks. The acids found in carbonated and sugary drinks are very hard on your enamel (2, 3).

Brush and floss daily. These are time-tested habits that keep your oral health up. Even when you get home late or your schedule feels too busy, be sure to floss and brush. We recommend brushing twice a day with a soft brush, and flossing once a day (4). This investment takes about 5 minutes, which means you only have to dedicate 0.3% of your day to reap the rewards of a healthy smile.

Remember your regular dentist visits! Either find a great dentist near your school, or schedule your dental checkups around visits back to your hometown – over the holidays or school breaks. Don’t leave your next appointment without scheduling your next one!

dental exams

Call Hagen Dental Today

Are you overdue for your next dental cleaning? Or perhaps you are enrolled in school in the Cincinnati area and need to find a great dental practice while you are away from home? Give Hagen Dental a call to answer your questions or to schedule your next appointment at (513) 251-5500.

Sources:

  1. http://digitalscholarship.unlv.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1363&context=jhdrp
  2. http://www.deardoctor.com/articles/10-health-tips-for-college-students/
  3. http://compdentalhealth.com/blog/college-students-oral-health/
  4. http://dental.ufl.edu/patient-care/patient-information/oral-health-tips-for-all-life-stages/