If you’re about to start a new university term, dental health is probably the last thing on your mind. However, the decisions you make now will have an impact on the health of your teeth and gums in the future. Making sure you look after your dental health now, no matter how many distractions there are, will ensure that you don’t suffer the consequences after you graduate.
Dental tips for university students
- Limit your drinking. It’s tough, especially during Fresher’s Week, but heavy alcohol consumption creates a lot of oral health risks. The more you drink, the less saliva is produced in your mouth and the more dehydrated you’ll be. Saliva is essential for ensuring that your mouth isn’t an attractive place for the bacteria that can cause cavities to thrive. So, if you cut down on the booze you’ll reduce the potential for decay and limit bad breath too. If drinking is unavoidable then opt for lighter beers and stay away from dark stouts, alcopops and red wine. You also may have the party trick of opening bottles with your teeth however this could be costly to your smile.
- Take care with your diet. What you eat can also have a big impact on your dental health at university. Try to eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, slow burn carbs and lean protein sources – this will fuel your body for study as well as supporting the health of your teeth. Limit your sugar intake – this is the fastest route to tooth decay – and drink plenty of water to ensure that your mouth doesn’t get dehydrated.
- Be wary of energy drinks. Especially during exam time, it’s common to see university libraries and studies littered with energy drink bottles. However, these drinks are the worst culprits when it comes to acidity and sugar content. The more energy drinks you consume, the more you’re coating your teeth with acid and sugar – plus, you also risk getting addicted to the effects. There is no substitute for a good night’s sleep when it comes to having the energy to study so try to prioritise that instead.
- Have a solid oral routine. There’s a lot going on when you arrive at university and it can be difficult to remember things. That’s why a solid oral routine that you do almost without thinking is essential. Get used to brushing twice a day and flossing once in the evening, use mouthwash and set regular reminders to replace your toothbrush so that it’s always effective. Invest in a fluoride rich toothpaste and make sure that you have the right toothbrush for your mouth – if you’re a hard brusher then softer bristles will ensure you don’t do any damage.
- Register with a new dentist and have check ups. As soon as you settle in on campus, find yourself a local dentist and get registered. Remember to book in for regular check ups with both the dentist and the hygienist. Check ups are as important now as they were when you were a kid – they will give your dentist the opportunity to spot issues early so that they don’t escalate into a serious problem.
- Look after you. Self-care is crucial for university students – it’s up to you now to look after body and mind. If you’re stressed, for example, then you could be grinding your teeth and doing damage, or stress eating sugary foods. If you’re struggling to sleep then this can affect everything, from concentration to the choices you make about alcohol or food. Everyone feels stressed and everyone suffers from insomnia sometimes – but you don’t have to keep struggling with these issues. Ask for help if you’re seriously stressed and unable to sleep, for the sake of your study, your wellbeing and also your teeth.