College is an exciting time for lots of young adults, providing an opportunity to get out of the house and live independently. However, for many students, campus life can distract from daily regimens like proper oral hygiene. Whether or not students want to admit it, almost everyone has fallen asleep while pulling an all-nighter or passed out on a friend's couch after a night on the town. Though students are due an opportunity to enjoy all of the benefits of living on campus, take note of these five common oral care mistakes made by college students:
1. Falling asleep without brushing their teeth
Believe it or not, even missing out on one session of brushing your teeth allows plaque to build up. It may not seem like a big deal (other than your morning breath), but there's a reason dentists advise brushing your teeth twice each day. Whether you're in the middle of a study binge, watching a movie in bed or getting back from a late night at the local pub, make a point of brushing your teeth before you fall asleep. Also, don't be a chucklehead by cutting this hygienic routine short - brush your teeth for at least two minutes.
2. Drinking beverages that cause tooth decay
When you're in the cafeteria with unlimited food at your fingertips, it can be easy to opt for a glass of soda or a sports drink. However, keep in mind that these drinks are high in sugar and contribute to tooth decay. Also, note that alcoholic beverages take a toll on your oral health. According to Dentistry Today, alcoholic drinks are high in sugars and acids that cause tooth decay, and can be particularly harmful when consumed in large quantities.1 The source also notes that drinking heavily can irritate the mouth, gums and tongue. In general, consuming sugary drinks or foods too often doesn't provide tooth enamel adequate time to strengthen itself by remineralizing.
3. Skipping visits to the dentist
The American Dental Association recommends seeing a dentist once or twice a year, but more often if you are prone to cavities or other oral health problems.2 For students, finding time to prioritize the dentist can be a challenge, but checkups are imperative for catching potential problems early on. If the semester is simply too busy, make a point of getting a checkup during the holidays or over summer vacation. If you're on a tight budget, note that a trip to the dentist doesn't have to break the bank. With dental discount plans, you can pay one low monthly fee to save on the cost of visiting a wide range of oral health care professionals.
4. Taking advantage of the wrong parts of the meal plan
For college students, an unlimited meal plan can be a lifesaver, but remember: just because unhealthy foods are constantly available doesn't mean you have to eat them. Don't go overboard on the cookie and dessert station and be sure to get enough servings of produce. Certain fruits and vegetables are actually good for your teeth and will also help you stay alert and attentive in class. Dodge the freshman 15 and drop the unhealthy, sugary foods from your diet.
5. Forgetting to brush in the morning
Those early morning classes may seem impossible to wake up for, but don't hit the snooze button on your alarm until you have to dash to class in your pajamas. If you have to rise for a lecture at dawn, give yourself a few extra minutes to brush your teeth before class.
1 "Sugars, Acids in Alcohol May Lead to Tooth Decay," by Dr. David Mady Jr., Dentistry Today, Dec. 16, 2010. http://dentistrytoday.com/todays-dental-news/4262-sugars-acids-in-alcohol-may-lead-to-tooth-decay
2 "Questions About Going to the Dentist," American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/en/Home-MouthHealthy/dental-care-concerns/questions-about-going-to-the-dentist/