The finish line is in view. In the next several weeks, your child will walk across the stage and earn their high school diploma, and shortly after that, head away to college. Is your teen ready to take control of their dental health? Although this topic probably has not come up, it is an important one.
Between the stresses of a full-time course load and outside peer pressures, your child could face a lot of oral health risks while away. Learn what you can do now to protect your child's mouth, teeth, and gums.
Schedule a Checkup
Make an appointment with a dental provider at least a couple of months before the teen departs for college. The average person will have their wisdom teeth fully develop somewhere between 17 and 25 years old.
Some people go years without any problems, and others have serious issues, including impacted wisdom teeth, cysts, and infections. Most important, a dental provider can often tell whether a wisdom tooth will be problematic even before the onset of a problem.
The worst-case scenario is for your teen to be in the middle of midterms dealing with an infected wisdom tooth that could throw them off their study game or send them home with a dental emergency. Making an appointment a couple of months before they leave provides ample time for your child to recover from oral surgery, if necessary.
Have the Alcohol Talk
Many parents don't want to think about their child consuming alcohol, but the reality is that around 80% of all college students drink alcohol. And while underage drinking is illegal, it's also detrimental to oral health and adequate hydration.
When a person consumes these types of beverages, saliva production slows. The result of this decrease is dry mouth. Dry mouth can lead to foul breath, but it also creates a safe space for bacteria. Without healthy saliva levels, bacteria stay on the teeth and gums.
The stresses and peer pressure of college may also increase your child's propensity to substance abuse, which could lead to their neglecting their needs, including basic daily oral hygiene practices. Alcohol abuse also heightens your risk for oral cancer, so all parents need to educate their children about the risks.
Buy Extra Tools
If your teen is anything like the average child, you probably don't expect them to search the aisles of big box stores for bulk toiletries. So take the next step and help your teen plan by stocking up on extra tools before they head off.
First, Buy about five extra toothbrushes. You only need to change your toothbrush about once every three months. However, whenever you're sick, you should also get a new toothbrush; the extra brushes come in handy in this instance.
Since it's hard to gauge exactly how much floss your child will need, consider investing in a water flosser instead. Next, to save space, you might want to send bottles of mouthwash with your care packages. However you decide to send oral health tools, if you give the child all the tools they need, they're more likely to maintain a solid oral hygiene regimen.
You may also want to teach your teen the most effective ways to shop for hygiene tools. You can use the college years to provide your teen with supplies and guidance so that they use their independence wisely and sustain healthy habits throughout their life.
Good oral health begins with education. The more you know how to care for your oral health, the better off you are. At New England Dental Health Services PC, we are committed to working with our patients. Whether by answering questions or scheduling appointments around school breaks, we want to keep your family's smiles bright and healthy.