Looking After Your Teeth At University

Don’t let hard work and too much fun ruin a healthy mouth!

It’s that time of the year when many students will be going to university for the first time, possibly promising their parents that they will be good and won’t do anything that their parents wouldn’t!

Of course, no parent really believes this even if they want to hear it, and going to university, especially away from your home town, can be a great and life building experience.

In all the excitement and initial confusion of finding your way initially, it can be all too easy to forget some of the basic things that we do at home, and some standards may slip a little as we find our way into a new world.

We hope that any of our younger patients from the Wickford and Rayleigh area that are starting university will remember to look after their teeth and gums, but just in case, here is a reminder of some of the potential pitfalls to look out for.

Basic oral health care

Above everything else, make sure to brush and floss your teeth well on a daily basis. Hopefully you do this at home and will continue to do so at university. We know that there are likely to be times when social events mean that this might be more difficult, but you should make sure to find those few minutes each day to do so.

Toothbrushes

We have mentioned before about keeping your toothbrush renewed every few months to keep the bristles healthy and effective. Whatever you do though, if you attend a party and stay over the night, please don’t share anyone’s toothbrush, however well you feel that you know them. This is a very risky thing to do and can lead to problems like gum disease and even more serious viral infections. If you don’t have access to a toothbrush, use some rough tissue paper, or even just your finger rather than share a brush. Make sure that you return to you regular cleaning regimen as soon as possible.

Alcohol

Although reports say that many younger people are drinking much less than previous generations, with some eschewing it altogether, a quick walk around university towns on a weekend night shows that this is not the case for everyone. Alcohol, drunk responsibly, can be fun, but, like smoking, it is also a risk factor for gum problems like gingivitis and periodontitis. Much of this risk is down to the dehydration that it can cause. Try to keep down your alcohol intake as much as possible and drink as much water as you can to limit the effects of dehydration.

Junk food

For some students, it will be a new experience looking after themselves. Whilst some will adapt easily to cooking, others may struggle and rely heavily on convenience foods. These vary in quality but many do contain high levels of sugar, even in savoury foods. Try to keep an eye on the labels so that you can keep your sugar intake down.  Better still, buy a simple cook book and learn to prepare your own healthy tooth friendly meals.

Take special care around exam times. Your time may be limited and you may be more likely to reach for snacks. This not only means a higher sugar intake but a far from optimal nutritional intake to keep your brain working as effectively as you would like at this important time.

Drugs

Don’t do them! The message from the Cygnet Dental Practice is clear. Without making any moral judgements as to the rights and wrongs of drug taking, they can be very harmful for your teeth and gums. In many cases, you may not even know what you are actually getting and this increases the risk even more. Of course, it isn’t just your teeth that can suffer, people can and do die from taking drugs that weren’t what they thought they were. Don’t do it; it really isn’t worth the risk.

Register with a dentist

When you are away for a long period of time, you should register with a local dentist. Even if you plan to have your usual checks done at the Cygnet Dental Practice when you return home during the breaks, it is still worth being registered with one in your university town. Sudden toothaches and accidental damage can still occur and it will be easier to be treated if you are registered as a patient.

Going to university can be an exciting and fulfilling time of life, where new discoveries are made and new friendships found. Don’t let poor oral health spoil your experience and please try to follow the advice above.

If you are a current patient of the Cygnet Dental Practice and would like to arrange a check up for the next time you are home from university, please call our Wickford dental clinic on 01268 733078.