If you have a child in college, chances are their dental care isn't really much of a concern. You're probably more worried about them passing their classes, or even going to class at all. Unfortunately, regular dental checkups are low on the priority list for many new college students. But even though they've left the nest and moved away to start their new lives, it's still important to make sure their oral health is in check.
Out of adults aged 30 and older, 47.2% of them have some form of periodontal disease. While college students aren't typically that age, they are actually at a pretty high risk for having dental issues. In fact, some college students are especially at risk.
Alcohol Use and Oral Health
Alcohol is a big part of the college life for many young adults. They go to parties, go out to bars, and have a glass of wine with their friends at the end of the night. However, if they go too hard on the drinks it can actually become a major danger to their health, including to their teeth. Alcohol reduces the amount of saliva produced, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria. Combine the large amount of sugar in alcohol and the lack of saliva, and the bacteria can then turn into cavities. It wouldn't be fun to have to take care of a cavity while trying to complete the strenuous college workload.
Tobacco and Marijuana
Some college students choose to use marijuana, smoke cigarettes, or chew tobacco while they're away at college. All of these things can hurt your child's health overall, but they can also do some damage to their teeth and gums. Much like alcohol, marijuana limits the amount of saliva your body produces, potentially creating cavities. Smoking can also do serious damage to their gums, lips, cheeks, and the roof of their mouths. It'll also be harder to achieve whiter teeth and good breath while smoking.
Lack of Sleep and Stress
College sometimes calls for all-nighters just to be able to get every last bit of studying in. But that lack of sleep can really be harmful to your teeth. Stress and lack of sleep go hand in hand, as the little to no rest creates a psychological imbalance. This psychological response causes your sympathetic nervous system to decrease saliva flow, which, as said before, can cause cavities and worsen your oral hygiene. Likewise, many people grind their teeth when they are stressed, which can cause jaw pain, headaches, and tooth damage.
If your child is away at college, make sure you do what all parents do and call your kids weekly. During this time, encourage them to find a local dentist to prevent any of the issues listed above. Also, remind them of the importance of visiting the dentist to check up on their oral hygiene.