Teenagers heading off to university this year need to be reminded of looking after their teeth.
This warning comes from Dr Ken Harris, who believes the late nights, too much alcohol and too many caffeine-rich fizzy drinks many students may encounter at university can lead to huge dental problems for young people.
‘For young people away from home for the first time, it’s inevitable that they are going to embrace a party lifestyle,’ said Dr Harris, who has almost 35 years’ experience working in general dental practice.
‘This can lead to dehydration and reduce the flow of saliva, which helps protect teeth, putting people at real risk of acid damage.
‘Many youngsters then compound the problem by drinking energy drinks to stay awake.
‘Carbonated drinks like these, even sugar-free versions, contain significant acid in the fizz, which softens the enamel on your teeth, and if you then brush softened teeth, they wear down really fast.’
Tips for university
Dr Ken Harris is advising families to flag up these issues with children and help them look after their teeth.
He has the following tips for young people heading off to university:
- Don’t brush your teeth straight after having carbonated drinks or fruit juice. This could actually damage teeth because tooth enamel would be softened by the acid
- Wait four hours after having fizzy drinks before brushing your teeth – giving the enamel time to harden up again
- Drink plenty of water, especially if you exercise a lot
- If you vomit, do not brush your teeth immediately, but rinse your mouth with water.
‘I’ve had patients come home from university after just one term and I can see the damage immediately,’ continued Dr Harris.
‘It’s really important that youngsters heading off from home to university become aware of these potential problems or they could be setting themselves up for a whole host of dental issues in the future.’