College is often the first time a young adult will have been away from home, and away from their parents. Routines change, and the ultimate responsibility for oral health shifts (namely, no one is around to remind the student they should be brushing!) During college, your child will grow as an adult, and learn many new things—about life—about themselves—and the world. And often in the distraction of these busy years, combined with the autonomy to make their own decisions, we see dental health significantly decline in our patients.
In CDC (2014b) research, the 17.5% of 5- 19-year-old children have untreated dental caries/tooth decay and 27.4% of adults between ages 20-44 years old have tooth decay.
As you prepare your son or daughter to move into their dorm or apartment and start the next phase of life, here are some tips for oral health “dos”… and “don’ts”.
Oral Hygiene Missteps
- Using a toothbrush for too long or not long enough, or at the wrong angle can damage teeth and gums. If your son or daughter does not know, and/or you don’t know what that is—just ask at your next appointment!
- Don’t forget the tongue. The tongue needs to be brushed too. Include a gentle brushing each time teeth are brushed.
- Just wait a moment! Waiting after brushing before rinsing with water is good for your teeth. Water will rinse away the fluoride in the toothpaste residue—which formulated to be good for teeth! Just let it sit there a few minutes after brushing before reaching for the H20.
- Don’t use the wrong toothbrush. Using a hard bristle toothbrush can cause enamel damage. Use a soft bristled brush in small circles to get at every surface of the teeth. It may take a minute longer… but your teeth and gums will thank you for it.
- Brushing too soon after a meal can cause a problem for your teeth. Some foods and drinks soften the tooth enamel and brushing them too quickly after acidic foods can cause damage. So just sit and enjoy a moment after eating.
Here are some tips for helping college students maintain their healthy smile.
1. Regular cleanings. As a parent, you can assist your son or daughter, by making or encouraging their 6-month check-ups during summer and winter breaks.
2. Check your insurance. Different types of insurance cover students for different things for different periods of time. Know what your insurance covers, and if you have questions, just let us know. We may be able to help.
3. Stock up. Toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, and toothbrushes are the tools that will help keep the student’s mouth healthy. But many students will find other things to spend their money on. Try providing your son/daughter a little “oral-care-package” with everything they might need.
College students who are informed and take responsible have an excellent chance of getting through their college years, and through the transition to adult-hood with great oral health and a healthy smile.
If you or your son or daughter needs a checkup—give us a call today. We’d love to hear from you.