Making the Grade: Dental Health for College Students

Fall means back-to-school time and for many college freshmen they have one month of campus life under their belt. These same students are seizing independence, dictating their own schedules and doing things on their own time. But between campus activities, Greek life and the standard classes, papers and tests, one of the things that is not top priority is their dental health.

For those away at school, it’s important to take ownership of one’s dental health by being aware of these common pitfalls:

  • Dental Hygiene – As a college student, pulling all-nighters to study or staying up late simply because you can is the norm. No matter the reason it’s still important for students to brush two times per day for a recommended two minute time period.
  • Energy Drinks – Students routinely need a ‘kick-start’ to their 8 a.m. class especially after a late night of studying. Although energy drinks may offer a caffeine jolt they also contain citric acid, which strips enamel off the teeth. Avoiding these drinks is best for preserving dental health but coffee is a better choice (less than 4 cups a day) if a pick-me-up is needed.
  • Stress – Obtaining a 4.0 GPA isn’t easy, yet many college students will do whatever it takes to achieve it. The stress to make the grade, in addition to sleep deprivation from studying, can show on one’s teeth as a result of grinding and clenching. Making sleep (7 to 8 hours a night) and exercise (at least 30 minutes a day) a priority will help students deal with stress in a productive way. If a student has jaw pain (as a result of grinding and/or clenching) they should see a dental professional immediately.

College is an exciting time to map out one’s future career and take advantage of the many opportunities available. Although these opportunities don’t leave much room for down time, students should start practicing a balance in their academic, social and personal life to ensure dental, and overall, wellness for years to come.