Why university can be bad for your teeth

Bad teeth.
Bad teeth.

Going away to university can be bad for your teeth, a leading dentist has warned.

Late nights, too much alcohol and too many caffeine-rich fizzy drinks to help stay awake can cause huge dental problems for young people, according to Dr Ken Harris.

The cosmetic dentist, who runs Riveredge Cosmetic Dentistry in Sunderland and Newcastle, said the round-the-clock party lifestyle that young people often enjoy at university can contribute to unexpected dental problems.

And now he is advising families whose children may be leaving home for the first time to flag up these issues and help them to take care of their teeth.

“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 soften the enamel on your teeth, and if you then brush softened teeth, they wear down really fast.”

He added: ”I’ve had patients come home from university after just one term and I can see the damage immediately,” said 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.”

Dr Harris is one of the UK’s foremost cosmetic dentists and a multi-award winner. With almost 35 years of experience, he has an MSc in Restorative & Aesthetic Dentistry and is a Fellow of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

He is a member of the AACD (American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry) and acts as UK clinical director for California Center for Advanced Dental Studies in San Francisco along with lecturing around the globe.

For more information, visit www.riveredge.co.uk.

Dr Harris’s 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.