From high school to college, students have a lot of new things to learn. The independence that comes with moving away from home can be exciting and terrifying, and can be the start of a lot of phone calls home asking “how do I do this?” While students are focused on their academic performance and new social lives, it’s not surprising that dental health gets pushed to the wayside. However, college is the last place you want to be saying “maybe later” to your dental hygiene.
You may not know it, but your mouth is a reflection of your body’s overall health. Lack of proper dental care can lead to more than just changes to your smile. Poor dental hygiene can result in tooth decay, tooth loss, and even gum disease. But studies show that once students have left the nest and entered college, the visits to a dentist’s office declined significantly. For some, the reasons may be economical ones. If individuals know that they have a lot of work that needs to be done, it’s possible that they’re avoiding the dentist to avoid paying out the cost of correcting their teeth. Another common reason for shying away from the dentist is related to students’ anxiety about finding a professional on their own, especially if their new college or university town is unfamiliar to them. Whatever the case may be, there are many reasons why college students should be seeing a dentist on a regular basis.
Changes in eating habits are one of the biggest transitions for students when they come to college. They no longer can depend on parents or guardians for meal planning, and suddenly, quick, low-cost meals become a dietary staple. Some of those diet changes may also include more caffeine intake from coffee, soda, or energy drinks (all highly acidic), tobacco use (increased plaque build-up and heightened chance of gum disease), and greater sugar intake. These changes in how you eat can affect teeth directly, while over time the lack of nutrients in the diet may begin to cause additional problems to the health and well-being of the gums and inner tooth tissue.
Maintaining good dental health is a preventive measure students should be taking to avoid the need for more intrusive and more expensive treatment down the road. Although taking the time go to the dentist may seem daunting with classes, extracurriculars, and jobs, it’s important. A regular check-up may last about 45 minutes to an hour. However, infrequent visits and long stints of zero check-ups can result in longer appointment times. If there is a problem such as a cavity or severe tooth decay, fixing the problem may require making one or two more appointments to resolve the issue. Instead, students can be proactive with their dental health by seeing a dentist frequently to identify and stop issues before they start.
Finally, the last big reason we wanted to share with you was the fact that taking care of yourself now means saving money for yourself later. Fillings, root canals, tooth replacements, or endodontic procedures can all be costly to fix differing issues related to tooth decay and poor dental hygiene. Understanding how to take care of your teeth and having them regularly cleaned is an important investment students should be making in themselves. The results may not be apparent now, but down the road after graduation when real life starts to happen, knowing that you’ve done everything you could to keep your teeth healthy and strong will be a relief to you and your wallet. (Especially when those student loans kick in.)
Been awhile since you’ve been to the dentist? We’d love to meet you! If you would like to set up an appointment to meet the staff or for a check-up, give the Creason, Weber & Mountford office a call at (616) 842-0822. We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!