It is that time of year again!

After my not so subtle “expressive essay” about how parents need to take a little more responsibility for their children’s teeth I’m going to focus on the kids.

While I have learned so much over the years practicing dentistry, one of the more surprising things I’ve noticed is that as excited as kids are to get out of school for the summer, their parents are twice as excited for them to be going BACK to school.  Many parents will routinely say, “Only 11 more days until school starts, I can’t wait!”

However, every year there are those parents that are sending their kids off to college and they’re terrified.  I assure you, that makes two of us.  As their dentist, I feel like we are sending them off to college together.  So many things can happen and we need them to be fully informed.  Of course, I am referring to the dreaded college cavity crisis.  Each child that goes off to college from the FFD family gets “the talk”.

“The talk” begins friendly enough: I wish them well, inform them to make sure to write their parents letters every week (does the post office even exist anymore?), go to class, and get to bed on time.  Also, don’t make the same mistake I made my first semester…..

that 8 AM Monday Wednesday Friday class came pretty quick.

I tell them that, believe it or not, they won’t want to wake up an hour before their first class take a shower, eat breakfast in the dining hall, and go back to the dorm to brush their teeth.  Instead, they’ll roll out of bed 10 minutes before class starts, eat after class, and either go back to bed or be swamped with hours of Netflix to watch before hanging out with friends that night. I advise to them make it a priority to brush after meals even if it is an hour after they eat.

I don’t want to hear they were missing classes on account of brushing their teeth, but put it somewhere between learning how to do laundry and putting up an accurate and up to date Instant Messenger Away Message.

Another tendency which I warn them to sidestep is the coffee/RedBull challenge. There is no monetary reward for the most cups of coffee or cans of RedBull consumed over a 5 hour study session, so if they must have them to stay awake that is fine, however, make sure not to sip on them constantly while studying. It is better for them to finish the caffeine cocktail all at once and brush their teeth as opposed to constantly bombarding their teeth with sugar for an extended period of time.

Then I get to the really important stuff.  They may have friends in college that choose to enjoy adult beverages; I know you would never do this so I am telling you so you can help them.  If they happen to engage in this type of activity the most responsible decision they can make is no matter what they must crawl to the sink and brush their teeth before going to bed.

This is important for a number of reasons: First, their mouth will be very dry due to their consumption which decreases the amount of saliva available to naturally clean their teeth. Secondly, there is a lot of sugar in adult beverages which is going to be sitting on their teeth compounding the possibility of them returning home after their first semester with a few cavities.

The question still remains, when does Dr. Farrell not exactly tell the truth?

When mom inevitably asks the question how did little Jimmy or Sally get so many cavities in such a short time?

That cafeteria food is pretty high in carbs, better give them more spending money.


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