For students living away from home for the first time, college is an exciting opportunity for exploration, independence and responsibility. In addition to managing a packed schedule of classes, young people face new social experiences that can disrupt their usual routines.
To avoid serious oral health and aesthetic issues, however, it’s important to maintain good dental habits even when you’re busy and tired. Here are some dorm room dental care tips to help keep your teeth healthy and bright.
Purchase a vanity kit
You’re a lot less likely to practice good dental hygiene if you’re constantly struggling to track down your floss, toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash. To make brushing more convenient, buy a vanity bag or dopp kit, so you can store your dental care items in one portable space. This is especially helpful in freshman dorms, where students are forced to share their bathrooms with at least one other person. When you need to brush, you can quickly grab your vanity bag and go.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 33 percent of Americans say they never floss, while only about 31 percent said they floss every day. When you don’t floss, food and bacteria can build up between your teeth, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease. What’s more, this food and bacteria can lead to bad breath, which can be especially concerning to college students who tend to be engaged in numerous social activities. Ideally, you should floss at least once per day; however, it’s good to keep a container of floss in your purse or pocket in case you need it in a pinch.
Drink in moderation
If you’re over 21 and drink alcohol, use moderation. Both beer and wine contain acids and tannins, which can promote tooth decay and stain your smile. Research has also shown that alcohol can increase the risk of gum disease, along with cancers of the larynx, esophagus and mouth. If you do consume alcohol while you’re attending college, try to drink water in between alcoholic beverages to help rinse away acids that could harm your teeth.
Change your toothbrush regularly
It’s a good idea to purchase a new toothbrush every three months, since the bristles can lose their effectiveness over time. It’s also important to note that toothbrushes can harbor millions of bacteria, including Staph and E. coli. Try to swap out your toothbrush often, especially if you’ve recently been ill. You should also consider drying out your toothbrush between cleanings and occasionally cleaning it with mouthwash.
See your dentist
It’s important to maintain routine dental cleanings and exams to find minor issues before they evolve into painful, expensive problems. If you’re getting ready to start college, you may also want to visit your local dentist for a teeth whitening procedure, so that you will feel confident about your smile the moment you walk onto campus.