Dental Health Tips For College Students

It’s back to school time, a fact that can both be exciting and cause a bit of anxiety. Between exams, papers, projects and trying to have an active social life, many college students have a hard time balancing everything. And sometimes one of the last things on a college student’s mind is having time to keep up on their personal health and wellness.

As Michigan State students get back into the swing of things we wanted to make their transition easier sharing some health and wellness tips to help make the college routine more manageable, easy to follow, and still allow for the college experience.

Dental Risks

The oral health risk factor that is generally most associated with college students is excessive alcohol consumption and caffeine dependency. We’re not going to tell you to stop drinking altogether, but like anything it should be done in moderation.  Remember that alcohol, wine, jungle juice, beer, coffee and soda can cause stains and dry mouth which can both lead to a higher risk of tooth decay.  But fret not; there can be positives and safe ways to enjoy drinking that won’t damage your oral health.

  • If you’re going to drink alcohol, try to stick to lighter beers such as pale ales and pilsners and away from red wine and stouts. Lighter colored beers that are brewed with unroasted barley and hops are enriched with calcium and silicon. These together have the potential to strengthen teeth, hair and nails. Beer that’s heavy in hops also have compounds like tannins (an antioxidant) and can be as effective as fluoride and can prevent bacteria from sticking to tooth enamel.
  • Sipping on drinks is actually worse for your teeth. Sugar in wine, mixed drinks and soda combine with bacteria in your mouth to form acid which then attack the teeth. This ‘attack’ generally has a life span of 20 minutes so every time you take another sip, the cycle restarts. The long term effect is weakened enamel and susceptibility to tooth decay. The best way to prevent this is to limit your intake, alternate with water to dilute the acid and sugar, and of course brush your teeth after a night out.
  • Drink from a straw. Sounds silly right? Drinking from a straw actually helps prevent stains because you avoid direct contact with the front of your teeth. This also means reduces exposure to harmful bacteria and allows for a more controlled intake.
  • Don’t over-do it. Drinking in moderation is what’s going to make the biggest difference. MSU has plenty of tips and social guidelines to help you get accustomed to Lansing Life.

Your Diet. The other major health risk to college students is their diet. In college we know that late-night pizza study groups, dining halls with make-your-own ice cream bars and a Starbucks on every corner with no parental control are all too real. College can be full of dietary obstacles and mom’s care packages filled with carrots and broccoli can only do so much. Not only does a poor diet pose a threat to your oral health, but it opens a gateway for other health risks such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being overweight. We have some diet tips for college student that can help you manage your new dietary freedom.

Don’t skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast can impact scholastic achievement. Your body is less alert and it can take longer to get up to speed if you’re missing the first meal of the day. If you don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a meal, grabbing an apple, bagel or granola bar is a much better alternative than nothing.

Limit your sugar intake. Sugar is one of the biggest factors contributing to tooth decay. While having sugar in your diet is essential, most people tend of overdo it by sweetening coffee, drinking soda or snacking on candy. Be wary of ‘sugar-free’ snacks or drinks as well, often times the void of sugar is filled with higher sodium or artificial sweetener (aspartame).

Drink a lot of water. The eight glasses a day myth? It’s not as exaggerated as some people think. While drinking water depends on your weight, age and if you’re an active person, it’s safe to say that the average person should drink 70-150 ounces of water a day. Camelbak’s Hydration Calculator can help you figure out the best water intake for yourself.

Designate a ‘cheat day.’ Not only does having a cheat day give you something to look forward to, but it also helps you better stay on track for a well-balanced diet. It’s recommended that your cheat day be on the weekend since 1) you need more energy during the week for school or work and 2) this is the time where you’re more likely to go out to eat.

Just because you’re in college and away from home doesn’t mean you should stop seeing the dentist. During the school year, your “normal” routine is now anything but normal especially if you’re attending school from out-of-state. However, no matter where you go or where you’re from, regular checkups and cleanings are still a must. Be sure to still see your own dentist or schedule an appointment with a local dentist close to your school (like us!) every six months.

Michigan State and Lansing Community College Students

The offices of Dr. Daniel J. Derksen, DDS, PLLC are conveniently located for our patients in Lansing and East Lansing, Michigan. Contact us today to set up an appointment and let us take care of your dental health and oral care needs.

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