If you are a college bound teen and you have clicked in to read this article... I have high hopes for your dental health!
My suspicion is that you are actually the parent of a college bound teen and you are probably excited for your child as they enter this new phase of life, and likely a little concerned that they are going to be on their own, making their own decisions . My children are 11 and 7 and I have 8 years before I will be in your shoes. I am however a dental hygienist who every year finds myself trying to warn kids as they prepare to leave for college not to neglect their teeth. I feel for you parents who have spent the last 18 years reminding your kids to brush their teeth and wear their retainers so they don't essentially flush the $6000 you spent and 100 visits to the orthodontist down the toilet.
So here are my top 5 tips...or pleas to college bound kid:
1. Get your wisdom teeth out before you go!
If it has been recommended to remove your wisdom teeth, try to do it before you enter college. Life is busy and it tends to just keep getting busier once you enter college. A handful of times I have had patients who had to have their wisdom teeth removed while in school because of pain or swelling.
It tends to be a better situation if you can see an oral surgeon who your dentist knows and refers you to. Recovery in the comfort of your own home also tends to be ideal. It is totally possible that your new roommate is extremely nurturing and will happily bring you frostys and popsicles in bed, but you also run the risk of them posting a video of you acting crazy coming out of anesthesia!
2.The future you will think the college you is a moron if you don't wear your retainers!
This is true, right now you are young and cute- the world is full of unknown potential. At some point that potential will take you places, a wedding,a job- who knows. But when opportunity knocks you'll want to smile with confidence, a jacked up grill doesn't usually lend itself to big, bold,confident smiles.
Do yourself a favor and don't waste all of the time you put into achieving a beautiful smile. Not to mention the small fortune your parents spent on your smile. If you don't foresee yourself wanting to spend thousands of dollars in the future to go through braces again...wear your retainers!!
I'm not telling you to avoid the late night parties and beer (I'll leave that to your parents)
What I will tell you is that I have seen countless kids return from their first year of college with decay between most of their teeth. While you may feel invincible, your teeth definitely are not!
A bad decision of two won't have lasting consequences on your teeth...a bad month or two is a different story. Essentially everything besides water has potential to cause damage to your teeth given enough time. The mistakes I see most commonly are coffee with cream or sugar consumed on a frequent basis. Energy drinks can cause major problems as can pop, juices, recovery drinks. Consider yourself warned!
4. Brush and floss
Do you know what is gross? Bad breath and bleeding gums! Do you know how to prevent gingivitis and halitosis? Yes, of course you do...don't forget the basics. Make sure you load up on supplies such as dental floss and fluoride rinse when you are school shopping. I often suggest flossing brushing in the shower to my patients who have a hard time getting in the routine. Consider taking your floss with you when you hop in the shower