Heading Back to School? Stop at the Dentist First

With the month of August quickly approaching, many families are beginning to think about back to school season.  Shopping for school supplies, fall fashions, and even dormitory furnishings are just a few examples of how parents and college students spend the last few weeks of summer.  While busy running around from Target to Macy’s, most forget to add “go to the dentist” to their list of stops.  That’s right; experts agree that visiting the dentist before the school year kicks off is a great idea, especially for college bound kiddos, and here’s why.

The National Center for Education Statistics reported that there were more than 2.5 million incoming college freshmen, many of which who are still teenagers.  For several of these kids, this will be their first taste of freedom as they have complete control over what they eat, when they sleep, how they spend their free time, and how much time they spend on academics.  It’s an exciting time with a lot of responsibility attached, and according to a Fox News article, an increased chance for a rise in health issues.  A slew of dental problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, grinding, and impacted wisdom teeth, often rear their ugly heads during this time of poor diet, lack of sleep, general stress, and excessive “partying,” making it even more important to visit the dentist before you head off to school.  Here are several tips that are recommended to optimize your oral health during this transition time.

  • Schedule a check up with your dentist a few weeks before leaving for school.  If any work is necessary, you’ll have time to get it done before leaving town.
  • Get your wisdom teeth checked.  Third molars often erupt during college years (ages 17-21).  If they are impacted, they can cause pain or infection, which would eventually require emergency attention.
  • Discuss a protective night-guard appliance with your dentist.  Stress often causes individuals to grind or clench their teeth.  If this happens to you, a simple and comfortable night-guard can prevent damage and alleviate pain associated with these habits.
  • As a special treat, whiten your teeth.  Studies have shown that a person’s smile is the most impressionable characteristic when meeting new people.  Brightening your smile will boost your self esteem and give you the confidence to start school on the right foot.
  • Practice good eating habits.  Nutrition plays a HUGE role in oral health and general wellness.  Make good food and drink choices by eliminating refined carbohydrates, sugars, and carbonated beverages.  Instead reach for greens and fresh fruits and be sure to drink plenty of water.

It’s never too early to start practicing good oral health habits.  Be sure to make room on your back to school to-do list for your bi-annual visit to your dentist.

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