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Oral Health Risks Among College Students

While it's easy to get distracted by classes and a busy social life, taking time to take care of your teeth, gums and mouth is still critically important.
August 17, 2021
6 mins read

Oral health is a topic that has been important for a long time;  nowadays, the dental community concerns itself mostly with different oral health education techniques for infants, juveniles, adolescents, adults and older adults. The use of different oral health education techniques is centered around the fact that different age groups require different methods to get them to adopt healthy oral hygiene.

Family dentist Dr. Carr disputes the fact that similar techniques should be employed for adults between ages 18-24 and adults above this age group. He further stresses that adults from 18-24, particularly college students, are prone to immature habits that are detrimental to their oral health in contrast to adults above this age group.

This dentist also states that adopting different oral health education techniques for the separate age groups hinges on the fact that college students find it difficult to express their dental complaints out of fear that their parents or colleagues at school may discover this information. This can be remedied by giving the college student a sense of trust that the information revealed during the dental sessions will not be exposed to any external party.

This article highlights the detrimental oral health habits common among college students and the risks associated with these habits.

Bad Oral Health Habits Exhibited by College Students

In line with the suggestion that college students require a different oral health education approach because of their unhealthy oral practices, here are some things that contribute to bad oral hygiene among college students.

  1. Poor Eating Habits: This is very common among college students. Many students in dormitories do not have access to kitchen facilities and hence rely on buying junk foods for sustenance. Another reason for these poor eating habits is because most students are too occupied with college activities like attending class and studying, all compounded by a very busy college schedule, which means that they cannot always afford the luxury of a good meal. Hence, they settle for cheaper alternatives like highly carbonated beverages, energy drinks and other sugary and unhealthy foods.
  2. Late-Night Snacks and Drinks: As unbelievable as it may sound, this is another unhealthy habit found in college students that affects oral health. It is well known that a large number of college students regularly attend nighttime parties. During these party events, they take items that are not healthy for their oral hygiene, and they make use of caffeine products to stave off sleep. It is also the same for people who are too busy with college work that they lose track of time and come home late. They often fall back to late-night snacks and drinks when they find that it may be too late to go for a proper meal.
  3. Piercings: Piercings are common for many college students. In a bid to adorn their body, students get piercings on the mouth and tongue. This is a terrible habit that should be addressed in a bid to maintain good oral health.
  4. Smoking: Another common habit among college students is the intake of tobacco products, like chewable tobacco, cigarettes and other smokable products; the consumption of these products is not healthy for any aspect of healthy living.
  5. Abuse of Alcoholic Drinks: This habit is common among college students. Excess alcohol intake is very bad for oral health and often leads to teeth damage.

Oral Health Risks Among College Students

Most of those habits exhibited by college students have several risks for oral health. These are the risks and how they can be treated or avoided:

  1. Mouth Cancer: This can sometimes result from piercings in and around the mouth. The presence of metal in the mouth results in the metals brushing against other parts of the mouth, which can easily cause abnormal growth. This risk can be prevented by avoiding these kinds of piercings and observing good oral hygiene habits.
  2. Mouth Sores: This also results from mouth piercings, when the metal objects in the mouth injure the different parts of the mouth, causing sores. Some of the injuries that can result from the presence of these metals are tooth breakage and sores on the tongue, gum or the top of the mouth. This can be remedied by either applying the preventive technique stated in the first risk mentioned above or using dentist-recommended chemicals to clean those metal objects and removing the objects when you are about to eat.
  3. Caries: This risk is associated with the large amount of alcohol and tobacco products consumed by college students, resulting in bacterial activity in the mouth. This can be remedied by abstaining from excess alcohol intake and tobacco.


This article contains detailed information on the bad oral health habits and health risks associated with the many other unhealthy habits of college students. It also proffers possible solutions and preventive methods for handling oral health risks.

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