College is a time when young adults are experiencing their first real taste of adult freedom. Free of the constraints of Mom and Dad’s rules, you will quickly learn to create a new support system of friends, manage your time wisely, keep up with studies and even perhaps a part-time job. First and foremost, you must master taking charge of your own personal health, both medical and dental, without reminders from parents. Keeping perfect dental health while in college ensures an adult life of healthy teeth and is part of this process.
5 Best-Kept Secrets for Perfect Dental Health While in College
Secret 1: Brush and Floss, Twice a Day
College is a busy time! Between class schedules, studying, working, and making friends, it’s easy to forget to brush and floss.
But the same advice that your reliable dentist back home told you holds true. Brush and floss, twice a day, every day. A productive session of toothbrushing should last about two minutes.
Follow up brushing with flossing thoroughly. Don’t floss only the teeth conveniently located in the front of the mouth! The back teeth count, too!
Secret 2: Follow up with A Fluoride Rinse
After brushing and flossing, follow up with a fluoride rinse. The brand itself doesn’t matter as much as the selection of a rinse specifically with fluoride.
Fluoride helps to strengthen the minerals that make up your tooth enamel. It aids in making enamel stronger so it’s less likely to develop the small cracks or chips that eventually lead to decay.
As a bonus, it can help neutralize bacteria that causes halitosis (bad breath).
Secret 3: Keep an Apple at Hand
Stock your dorm fridge with crunchy, healthy treats like apples, celery sticks, and carrots. Sure, it’s a great low-cal treat that will help you fight the Freshman 15 weight gain, but it’s also great for your teeth.
You probably need to eat on the run frequently. This often means that you’re going all day without access to dental floss if you do get some bits of cafeteria food stuck in between your pearly whites.
Those stuck-in food particles can cause inflammation of the gums; bacteria build-up that can cause decay; and, bad breath.
An apple, carrot, or celery can help remove those bits of food. As you’re munching away at these crunchy treats, their fibrous texture goes to work cleaning up your mouth. As you chew, they clean out those loose food particles out from your gum line and between the teeth.
In addition, these healthy snacks cause you to produce saliva which rinses your mouth clean as you swallow the snack.
Secret 4: Drink Water
Sure, an energy drink or a cola is your drink of choice because they come in a great selection of flavors. Plus, you’re probably addicted to the caffeine jolt that both improves your mood and keeps you awake to study and party. Am I right?
But those soft drinks are doing damage to your teeth.
First, they are laden with sugar of epic proportions. This sugar coats the tooth enamel, forms a sticky plaque, and leads to decay. The longer that film remains on your teeth, the more difficult it is to remove, causing serious plaque build-up.
Second, they can cause stains and discolorations. These are just not a cute college look.
How do you avoid it? The answer is simple: drink water.
I know you’re balking because you want that sugary rush. But water gives you energy by keeping your entire body properly hydrated. Plus, it won’t leave ugly stains on your teeth!
Secret 5: Routine Dental Exams
A trip away to college is not a get-out-of-dental-exams-free card. Keep up your regular dental exams every 6 months.
You can set appointments with your hometown dentist on school breaks, or you can get recommendations for a dentist in your college town. Your hometown dentist will miss you, but she won’t mind. Her goal, like yours, is to make sure that you experience a lifetime of dental wellness and healthy teeth.
Don’t let college be an excuse for letting your dental health slip to the wayside. This is your time to learn to start to take charge of your own life, including your health! Armed with these secrets, you can prove to your parents, and the world, then you are ready to take charge of your dental wellness.
About the Author: This guest post was submitted by Dr. Holly Gregory, a board-certified dentist in Humble, Texas. A native Texan, Dr. Gregory specializes in dental implants and family dentistry. Her foremost wish for you is a lifetime of healthy teeth.