College students lead busy lives and hectic schedules which canresult in oral healthcare neglect. According to the American DentalHygienists Association (ADHA), an estimated 75 percent of Americansreportedly have some form of periodontal disease. In most casesthese problems may have been avoided with regular dentalmaintenance. An early stage of periodontal disease, known asgingivitis is caused by plaque build up. This causes the gums tobecome infected and swollen; eventually leading to red, shiny, softgums that bleed easily. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead topyorrhea, an advanced stage of periodontal disease. In this casethe bones that support the teeth begin to erode and decay due toinfection.
“Cutting back on junk food and watchingwhat I eat has helped me avoid getting cavities,” says AishaNesbitt, junior education major student at Florida A&MUniversity.
The first step to proper dental hygiene beginswith a healthy diet. A diet that consists of high fiber foods, suchas fruits, green leafy vegetables and whole grain can be essentialto good dental health. Dairy products provide calcium and vitamin Dfor strengthening teeth and bones. Breads and cereals supply Bvitamins for the blood growth and iron for healthy blood.
This plays a role in healthy gum tissue.Products that are high in sugar and carbohydrates like acidiccitrus juices, sodas, and sweets contribute to weak teeth. Theseproducts also cause plaque to stick to the teeth and prevent whiteblood cells from fighting off bacteria. Taking vitamin supplementscan contribute to healthy teeth and gums by providing the addednutrients missing from your diet.
The second step to proper dental hygiene isthrough self oral cleansing.
Consistent brushing, flossing and using mouthwash with fluoride rinse are good ways to maintain strong andhealthy teeth. Not only do these routines help prevent bad breathand keep teeth white, they also reduce the risk of oralcomplications. The ADHA recommends brushing after meals, wheneverpossible and flossing daily. The ADHA also recommends replacingyour toothbrush every three months to reduce the risk of bacteriaor infection.
The third step to proper dental hygiene isgoing to the dentist every six months. Dental professionals areable to identify and correct dental problems, cater to theindividual needs of your teeth and provide proper ways to care forteeth between visits.
“I usually wait until I go home duringholidays to see my dentist,” says
Crystal Tate, sophomore broadcast journalismmajor at Howard University. By students waiting until they go hometo visit the dentist it can contribute to oral hygiene neglect.However, some colleges and universities provide dental assistancefor students. If so, these fees are usually included intuition. In cases when schools do not provide dentalassistance for students, local dentists in the area may partnerwith the school to offer students special or discounted rates ondental and other services.
In addition to a poor diet and oral cleansingneglect, there are several other factors that contribute to oralcomplications like stress and piercing. Stress can reduce thebody’s immunity by increasing the secretion of endogenous steroids,the body’s first line of defense among the white blood cells.
According to the American Dental Association,common problems with oral piercing include increased salivary flow,gingival injury or recession, damage to teeth, scar tissueformation, and metal hypersensitivity.
For more information on dental hygiene andcare contact a local dentist or ask about dental assistanceprovided through the student health center
Tips for brushing and flossing are availableat www.adha.org.