If you have a college-aged child, you know just how hectic back-to-school preparation and packing can be. This school year, don’t forget to equip your student with the proper tools and habits to keep his or her teeth healthy and bright while away from home. Here are some easy tips to ensure your student stays on top of his or her dental health this school year.

Send Plenty of Toothbrushes

Be sure to pack several toothbrushes for your student. Generally, it is best to replace a toothbrush every three to four months, or when the bristles start to wear. Manual brushes work great, but electric toothbrushes are even more effective at removing plaque and gingivitis from between the teeth and along the gum line.

Brush Up on Daily Oral Hygiene Habits

By the time your teen is ready for college, she or he hopefully has a good understanding of how to brush and floss properly. Remind your student about the importance of flossing once a day and twice-daily brushing. Slacking on dental health during the school year could lead to more serious, painful problems down the road, such as cavities and gum disease.

Don’t Forget the Mouthguards and Retainers

Athletes — especially those who play high-impact sports such as football or lacrosse — should always wear a mouthguard during practice and game time to avoid chipped or knocked out teeth. If your young adult plans on participating in sports during college, make sure she or he is fitted for a mouthguard by your dentist before leaving for school.

Similarly, if your student has had orthodontic treatment in the past and now wears a retainer, he or she may need a gentle reminder to wear the retainer for the recommended time each day. Braces and other types of orthodontic appliances require a lot of time, work and money. A commitment to wearing the retainer now is the key to keeping your smile healthy and beautiful for many years to come.

Talk About Healthy Eating Habits

It can be hard to eat healthy in college. The combination of a new schedule, a busy social life and the freedom to eat whatever you please can make it easy to fall into bad eating habits. Encourage your student to eat a nutrient-dense, well-balanced diet that includes plenty of water, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods. Consuming too many sugar-filled drinks and snacks can contribute to cavities and gum disease.

See the Dentist Before Classes Start

It is always a good idea to schedule a dental cleaning and checkup before the school year begins, no matter what your child’s age. Your dentist can check for changes in the teeth and gums, detect problems in the early stages and recommend treatment options to prevent more serious issues. We encourage kids to pre-plan visits around breaks so that they aren’t overdue on their 6 month routine visits.

Send a Care Package

Finally, a great way to show your student some love while she or he is away at school is by sending a care package. Include her or his favorite healthy snacks, gift cards to local restaurants and maybe even throw in a new toothbrush and floss. Your teen will appreciate the thoughtful gift — and so will his or her teeth!

As you and your college student gear up for another school year away from home, don’t let good dental health habits gets lost in the shuffle. Helping your young adult establish a good routine now can lead to a lifetime of healthy dental habits as an adult.

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