For college students, daily living skills fall squarely on their shoulders. Mom and Dad may still check in on their independent college student, but it’s not always face to face. For many of our nation’s university attendees, the campus freedom and some of the newfound stress that comes with managing essentially on their own, can wreak havoc with their mouths .
So, here are some basics for of dormitory (and apartment!) dental care:
- Limit alcohol consumption. For the nation’s young college students, drinking is still illegal, but that doesn’t mean it is not happening. There is still a large percentage of binge drinking among college-age students. Perhaps, a little reminder from Mom and Dad (or their dentist) that alcohol is a high-sugar food choice (and a fattening one, at that) will spur them to curb their drinking and to brush their teeth even more on nights when they do imbibe. Sometimes, thinking about decreasing alcohol consumption is more effective with college students who are averse to being told what to do. For those students, consider alternating drinking water with other drinks to cut down on the amount of alcohol consumed.
- Limit energy drinks. When papers pile up and exams loom, there may not feel like enough hours in the day. This often leads college students to grab a so-called energy drink (and they are the chief targeted marketing audience for these products). But energy drinks, in addition to delivering a high dose of caffeine, also have a huge amount of sugar, again, a no-no for healthy teeth. And, as if that wasn’t enough, most energy drinks contain citric acid, which can be quite harmful to teeth enamel.
- Straws are your friends. If you are drinking anything with a high sugar content, like juice, alcohol, sodas with sugar or energy drinks, drink with a straw and do your level best to brush your teeth as quickly as you can after you have drunk the sugary stuff.
- Protect your mouth. Even if you are just playing intramural sports, you still need a mouth guard. Students who played high school sports were forced to be conscientious about playing with mouth guards. When these same students go off to college and play recreational sports, they become a bit more complacent about protecting their teeth, especially at pick-up games with loose rules and no coaches. But mouth guards save a lot of future dental problems.
- Think about your teeth. Look at them occasionally when you brush them. Are the gums a healthy pink or are they puffy and bleeding? Are you feeling any pain in your jaw or mouth? Are your wisdom teeth beginning to erupt? If you notice any changes in your mouth, take action sooner rather than later.
- Find a dentist. If you are attending school far from home, your home dentist may be able to refer you to a colleague in your university location. In addition, many universities have very fine dental schools and their students are happy to learn on your teeth while they are getting their degree. They perform all procedures under the watchful eye of their professors.