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Top Dental Problems for College Students
June 23, 2018

students walking together outside of campus

The phrase “broke college student” rings true for many 20 somethings who are out of the house and away from their parents for the very first time. Learning how to navigate through life on their own can have many challenges and a steep learning curve, and making routine trips to the dentist for cleanings and exams are more times left off the “to do” list than not.

If you have a college student, or if you’re a young adult yourself, you could be facing increased dental health problems by skipping routine exams.


Why Millennials are Experiencing More Dental Problems

Among adults ages 20-64 years old, adults ages 20-34 are the segment with the highest percentage of untreated tooth decay in permanent teeth. Dentists are seeing a spike in cavities and tooth decay among millenials who for various reasons, are not going to the dentist on a regular basis.

Not going to the dentist on a regular basis can be for a number of reasons, but in this “Gen Y” situation, the most common reasons we’re seeing are:

College. Many college students have busy schedules with full classloads and several hours of studying for exams with little time left to make a dentist appointment.

Career. Whether just out of a trade school, high school, or college, beginning your career or potentially first job can be a stressful time in someone’s life.

Lack Of Insurance. A gap in insurance coverage due to no longer being under their parents plan or not having a job that provides dental insurance makes one less likely to see a dentist if the visit comes with unknown costs and expenses.

Cost. Regardless of whether someone is in school, just starting a job, or not having insurance, your 20’s are typically a time in one’s life where money is tight and extra funds aren’t typically being spent at the dentist for cleanings and tooth decay repair.


College Students are Susceptible to These Oral Health Concerns

Adults who don’t visit their dentist on a regular basis, and who have avoided the dentist for 2-3 years have the highest percentage of untreated tooth decay in permanent teeth. You may think “no pain, no problem” when it comes to teeth, but many dental health issues have hidden dangers that advance without any form of pain and discomfort until it becomes a very serious, more invasive, and more expensive treatment.

A high percentage of college students will experience one or more of these 3 dental problems:


Your years of college are typically full of late-night snacking, junk food, cheap fast foods and sugar-filled drinks. The college diet is the perfect environment for a mouth full of tooth decay and cavities. Frequent snacking and a diet that’s high in sugar and carbohydrates can cause a spike in the potential for cavities regardless of how healthy your teeth were before heading off to college.


College students with less than perfect oral hygiene routines are prone to inflamed, bleeding, or tender gums. The stress of college life and lack of sleep can also be the cause of inflammation in the gums. Gingivitis is typically reversible with proper care and with the help of a dentist, but if not taken care of, gingivitis can also be the beginning of periodontal disease.

TMJ Disorder

The main cause of TMJ disorder is stress and how it leads to intense clenching and grinding of the teeth. The signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder including a clicking or popping sound when opening your mouth, intense headaches and tooth sensitivity. Having a high stress level in college can have a direct impact on your dental health and discomfort you can feel because of teeth grinding.


Don’t Skip Your Twice Yearly Dental Exams

Whether you’re at college close to home or across the country, make sure your dental appointments don’t go overlooked. Call your dentist ahead of time to schedule exams over your winter or summer break, or find a new dentist in your college’s town for help closer to campus. If you’re going to school out of town, Hinsdale Dentistry can help you in finding a great dentist that’s close to school.