For most young men and women, college is the first time that they’ve had a chance to live on their own outside the home—sometimes great distances from home. And while most college-age students are adult enough to take good care of themselves, there are some lessons that you only learn by experience, and some habits that are easy to let fall by the wayside when you’re away from parental supervision.
Dental care—meaning regular brushing, flossing, and healthy eating habits, not to mention trips to your Overland Park dentist—are easy to forget during those hectic college years, when it never seems like there’s enough time to fit in classes, studies, socializing, part-time jobs, and everything else that goes into life in college. Healthy eating habits are often the first to go when you move away from home. Of course, there’s the temptation to eat only what you want to eat, rather than what you know you should, kicking broccoli and kale to the curb in favor of pizza and burritos. But there’s also a tendency to eat what is easy to get, especially when you’re living in a dorm and no longer gathering around the family dinner table. That means pizza, ramen, cereal, and other quick foods to get you through those late-night cram sessions, not to mention plenty of snacks to help keep your energy levels up, and lots of sugary sodas, energy drinks, and lattes from the local coffee shop.
Unfortunately, that kind of diet may be convenient for getting you through midterms, but it’s bad for your overall health, and especially the health of your teeth. After all, there’s a reason you hear about the “Freshman 15,” a tendency to gain weight during your first year of college as your good eating habits tank in favor of quick, unhealthy foods.
For parents whose kids are going away to college for the first time, it’s only natural to worry, but there’s only so much control you have over what choices they make while they’re away. One thing you can do to help ensure that your college-age kids keep a healthy smile is to help them maintain regular dental check-ups when they come home. Seeing their dentist during winter or spring break or over the summer can help keep them on course with their overall oral health program, and help remind them of the importance of brushing and flossing the rest of the time. Of course, these are popular times for dental check-ups for just this reason, so be sure to book your appointments early.
You can also include new toothbrushes, floss, toothpaste, and individual flossers when you send care packages. After all, college is a hectic time when it is easy to forget what may seem like “little things,” but it’s also the time when we begin to really solidify the habits that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. If you’re a student headed off to college—or the parent of one—and want some tips on how to make good dental health a priority in your life, just ask Dr. Watts, your Overland Park family dentist. He’s also your Zen Master when it comes to all things related to your dental care and oral health, and you can schedule an appointment today by calling (913) 338-3384.