Helping College-Bound Patients Maintain Their Oral Health

Date: September 01, 2021

Author: Mandy Dennis, RDH

College is an exciting time. It’s also a time when young adults develop habits and routines which may follow them the rest of their lives. As young adults head off to college and outside of the daily guidance of their parents, they begin shopping for themselves, cooking for themselves and don’t always make the best choices. Many parents feel handicapped, while they hope their student is making the right choices. Letting them go is the hardest and yet the most exciting time. One of the important routines we hope students continue is good oral health routines they have developed at home.

Many changes are about to happen for a new college student. Venturing out on their own can be scary and many times they will do the easiest thing. Changes in dietary and sleeping habits can have a negative impact on their oral care and their oral health status. Eating on-the-go and drinking caffeinated high-caloric drinks containing sugar puts students at an increased risk for dental caries risk compared to eating meals prepared at home. Increased stress and late nights can bring on drinking, including low pH drinks, and eating habits that also increase risk for dental erosion. Having products with additional fluoride can be very beneficial, but most college students may not know that they will benefit them. For most teens, they’ve used oral health products purchased by their parents. Colgate's Enamel Health products provide fluoride benefits. However, if a teen runs out, they may not be as committed to replenishing the toothbrush or fluoride product, and most will probably not get the floss! Patients at increased risk can benefit from a high-level fluoride paste, which is a prescription product and not available in stores, such as Colgate PreviDent 5000 Enamel Protect for increased protection.

As a parent of 3 college students, I understand the desire to be there and struggle with the change of letting my teenagers make choices on their own. I’d love to know they will go to the store and get the things they need as opposed to just “picking something off the shelf.” When moving them into their dorm or apartment, I’d stock the shelves of their room with necessary medications, toothpaste, healthy snacks and so forth, however these things do run out. Occasionally I would send a care package with their favorite things from home. Fortunately, now as soon as I know they have a need for their dental products, there is no need to run to the store. With Colgate Professional Direct, I’m able to send the things they need without wondering if they picked up the right thing! Having a convenient resource gives me the confidence they are more likely to be compliant with their typical routines!

Many patients may not know this resource is available. As teenagers are getting ready to head off to college, nutritional counseling may help them avoid potential oral health problems. We can also discuss healthy snacks with them. It can be a great opportunity for college-bound teenagers to start with healthy habits and making adult choices. Sending parents the link for the products you recommend can give them the opportunity to provide the recommended products for their college-age child, just as I did. We all love the feeling of continuing to help, even if we can’t be there.


  • Nutritional counseling is important when seeing college-bound patients
  • Enamel Health products can assist students at increased risk for dental caries by providing protection and strengthening
  • Colgate Professional Direct is a great resource for students, and for parents to assist students get the products which are best for them and convenient for parents provide

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