When my patients who are students from nearby Boston College, Bates College, and Connecticut College schedule exams and dental hygiene visits at our office, I see how college life can take a serious toll on young adults’ oral health.
Midterm exams are just weeks away, and while me and my staff can’t help you study for your exam, we can assure you that a healthy lifestyle and strong teeth and gums improves your quality of life, enabling you to excel academically.
At Home and Abroad, Oral Health Plays an Important Role
Whether you live with your parents or in a dorm room, the same oral hygiene rules will keep your mouth at its healthiest. Always brush at least twice daily, although brushing three times daily is ideal. Floss at least once daily to remove plaque and food from between your teeth.
You will benefit from twice-yearly exams and hygiene visits at our Sudbury, MA dentist office, during which we check for signs of gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer. Studies show that students with untreated dental problems miss more class and do not perform at their best academically. As oral issues worsen, students report social anxiety and self-esteem problems. Many times stress takes its toll and we need to diagnose the use of an occlusal gaurd for TMD issues.
The Dos and Don’ts of Dental Hygiene On Campus
DO Keep oral hygiene products accessible even away from your dorm. Disposable pocket flossers prevent food from hardening between teeth, and a travel toothbrush works well for overnight study sessions at your best friend’s apartment or dorm.
DON’T sabotage yourself with energy drinks during last-minute cram sessions. Monster, Red Bull, and Fuel energy drinks pack a wallop of sugar and highly acidic formulas, which weaken your tooth enamel and make you more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.
If you decide to guzzle an energy shot, swish and rinse your mouth with water as soon as you finish. Do not brush your teeth immediately after consuming soda or energy drinks. Instead, wait 30 minutes, or you risk damaging the acid-weakened tooth enamel with your brushing.
DO choose healthy, natural foods as often as possible. Vending machine fare and late-night pizza runs never bode well for your mind or body, and that includes your teeth. When you eat starchy items like bread, fried foods, and preservative-laden junk foods, your saliva breaks down carbohydrates into sugar. Millions of bacteria living in your mouth seize upon the sugary bits, forming yellow, sticky plaque that clings to your teeth.
DON’T replace water with sports drinks unless routinely engaged in physical exercise so rigorous that it would otherwise cause dehydration and leg cramps. For your session at the gym or your morning run, plain water gets the job done. Better still, it hydrates without the excessive sugar and acidity that typifies Gatorade and similar sports beverages. Avoid smoking and the use of chewing tobacco.