College Students: Understanding Oral Health Challenges That You May Face
Heading off to college can be an exciting and rewarding time of a young adult's life. However, it also brings drastic changes with it that could affect a person's standard routine, including oral health habits, which can result in serious damage. Here are a couple of primary issues that you will likely face and what to do:
Snacking Late at Night
If there is one thing that almost every college student is sure to do, it is sticking to a regular schedule when it comes to eating. In many cases, your third meal of the day isn't even a real meal. Instead, it is unhealthy snacks, like chocolate bars and potato chips. More often than not, you will fall asleep prior to brushing and flossing. Unfortunately, this is a terrible habit to get yourself into. By eating late and then also missing your oral hygiene routine, you are creating the perfect environment in your mouth for bacteria to grow and cause its damage.
Since you probably can't completely escape your late-night snacking, avoid the sugar and opt for healthier food options, such as fresh fruits, nuts and yogurt. If you don't think you will be able to get out of bed and get to the bathroom to brush your teeth before crashing, consider keeping some floss and a disposable toothbrush (the kind with toothpaste built in) handy in your dorm room that can be used before falling asleep.
Arrival of Your Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth will often make their appearance in your late teens and early 20s – right when you're in college. This is one reason why it is so important to maintain your dental appointments and avoid putting them off because you don't have the time to leave campus. If you're experiencing any pain or discomfort at any time, it is critical to make an appointment and have it checked out.
Wisdom teeth can push on your other teeth, leading to damage to the alignment of your smile and the undoing of existing dental work. In some cases, when left untreated, wisdom teeth can cause swollen gums, which can result in areas between your teeth where cavities can form. So, make the time for your appointments, as it is important to catch problems with wisdom teeth early. Try to schedule your appointments on days you don't have any classes, during school breaks, or even on a Saturday morning.
Stay in Touch with Your Dentist
It isn't uncommon for normal routines to be disrupted when you go off to college. However, you need to make sure that you maintain appointments for regular cleanings and exams to ensure your smile stays healthy and happy. In doing so, you will be able to focus on your studies. If the damage has already occurred, make sure to talk to a restorative dentist about what your options are. You may be able to wait until a holiday or summer break to have any major work done so that you're not down for the county during the semester.