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Oral Health Tips for College Students

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Between hitting the books and socializing, it's understandable that oral health may not be top of mind. Being in college and having a sense of independence for the first time can be a refreshing feeling, but it also comes with certain responsibilities that you'll want to stay on top of—and dental hygiene is one of them.

The mouth is a window to your overall health, and daily oral care can prevent many serious health issues down the road. Following this handy guide of dental care tips for college students will set you up for a lifetime of oral care success and ensure you have a bright, healthy smile that you can feel confident flashing in job interviews.

What Are Some Tips for Healthy Teeth and Gums?

A daily oral care routine is the most important aspect of good oral hygiene. Harmful bacteria can build up on your teeth and gums, causing plaque biofilm and tartar, leading to tooth decay and gum disease, also known as periodontitis. These conditions are known to produce serious complications to your oral and overall health if left untreated. Fortunately, regular dental care plays a significant role in prevention.

Here are some simple tips that can do wonders for your long-term oral health:

  • Brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day.
  • Clean between your teeth daily with interdental brushes, floss or water flossers.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste to protect your teeth.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or after being sick.
  • Never share your toothbrush.
  • Rinse daily with an antiseptic mouthrinse or mouthwash.

College students are susceptible to infections - colds, flu, and other bacterial infections. Using a mouthrinse helps prevent infections and keeps their oral health stable. You've likely been brushing your teeth on your own for years, but a refresher course in how to properly brush probably wouldn't hurt!

What To Do If You Have A Dental Emergency

Accidents happen! No matter how careful you are, teeth can get chipped and fractured. Maybe your mouth got bumped in the heat of an intramural basketball game, or perhaps it was just one of those days. Follow these steps if you ever experience a broken tooth:

  1. Rinse your mouth with warm water.
  2. Apply pressure to the bleeding area with clean gauze for around ten minutes.
  3. Apply a cold pack to the cheek or lips above the broken tooth.
  4. Call your dental professional.
  5. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

If your tooth falls out, call your dental professional immediately. Getting the tooth reimplanted in the socket is essential. Only handle the tooth by the crown and rinse it with water only. The highest likelihood of saving your tooth occurs in the first 30 minutes, so you'll want to get to a dental professional as soon as possible.

How To Maintain Regular Dental Checkups

If you aren't included on the insurance plan of a parent or guardian, you still have plenty of affordable dental care options available to you. Staying on top of your dental checkups should not be overlooked- it is important for maintaining good oral health. Whether it's for dental emergencies or routine appointments, these low-cost and free dental services can meet your oral care needs no matter the budget:

  • Dental and dental-related schools
  • Local free or low-cost dental health clinics
  • Dental care foundations
  • Student discounts or promotional rates

Should I Have a Dental Care Travel Kit?

You never know when you might need some on-the-go oral care. Keep a small travel kit with some dental hygiene essentials to stay prepared for when you need it. If you find yourself spending late nights at the library while crunching for exams or need to freshen up between classes or after the gym, packing your oral care kit with these basics can keep you minty fresh and cavity-free:

  • A portable soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Fluoride toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Travel mouthwash
  • Sugar-free gum

What Are Some Healthy Snacks for Teeth?

Finding the right balance of nutrition is important no matter how old you are. According to the American Dental Association, healthy eating patterns can help prevent tooth decay. But choosing nutritious foods isn't so easy when faced with buffet-style dining halls and endless supplies of pizza at campus events. Of course, you should avoid highly sugary or acidic food and beverages, but be sure to swish some water in your mouth if you do indulge.

Try reaching for some of these mouth-healthy snacks when you can. It's a tasty way to get some extra nourishment for studying while benefiting your mouth at the same time:

  • Sliced apples
  • Crunchy vegetables with nut butter
  • String cheese and cheese slices
  • Low-fat yogurt and fruit
  • Raw vegetables
  • Almonds and cashews

Keeping your dental hygiene in check is extremely important—and you'll be glad you did! Follow these oral care tips, and your college years will be filled with happy, healthy smiles. Not only that, but a good oral care routine is also the best way to make sure your first paycheck out of school doesn't go to your dentist. Have fun in school!

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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