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Preparing Your Teen for Dental Care During College

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The transition from high school to college is a major step in your young adult's life. Now that your child won't be under your roof, they need to start taking charge of their own life. Not only does that charge include making independent educational decisions but also making more of their own health-related decisions.
How can you help your soon-to-be college student to maintain a healthy mouth? Before your teen leaves for college, take a look at what both of you need to know about this transition and dental health.
Back to School Check-Up
You spent years (12 of them) getting your child back-to-school check-ups. Even though your teen is now a high school graduate, that doesn't mean they can skip their dental visit.
If late summer has traditionally been a time when you schedule your child's preventative dental visit, keep the tradition going - even as they get ready to move out of the house and into their college dorm. Everyone, from tots to teens to senior citizens, needs to see the dentist regularly.
Visiting the dentist before leaving for college gives your teen the chance to get in a deep-cleaning and address potential problems. Over 18 percent of children 5 to 19-years have one or more untreated cavities, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Moving to a new town, city or state is challenging on its own. You don't want to send your teen off with an unfilled cavity or toothache.
New School, New Dentist
While your child can keep their regular dentist for routine visits that you schedule during school breaks or summer vacation, they may need a dental professional nearby during the academic year. If your teen has an emergency dental issue, such as a chipped tooth or serious toothache, they'll need treatment immediately.
If your child is a flight or a long drive away from home, coming back to see their regular dentist isn't a realistic possibility. Instead of waiting for dental care until the next scheduled break or trip home, your child should have a dentist on or near campus. Some colleges offer dental services through their student health services office or department.
Check with the college or university for details that are specific to your child's academic institution. These services may be included in the general health fee or may require third-party insurance.
Along with dental services provided by the school's health center, some universities also have dental schools on campus. A dental graduate program may offer reduced cost routine and emergency services to students and the general public. These services are performed by dental students under the supervision of professors and professional dentists.
Your college-bound student can also choose their own private dentist. Even though it may be convenient to pick a dental pro who is affiliated with their school, you can also explore private options in the area.
Look for a dentist who is a member of the ADA or a similar professional organization, ask friends or people you may know in the area for recommendations, and make sure that the office is close enough to campus for your child to get to in a  reasonable amount of time.
At-Home Dental Care
Back-to-school shopping for college is an intense experience. Instead of a backpack and a few pens or pencils, you'll need to buy your child everything from bed sheets to a shower caddy. Add dental care items to the top of your child's back-to-school list.
Between navigating a new neighborhood, meeting new friends and everything else that goes along with starting college, chances are that your teen won't make buying toothpaste or a new toothbrush a top priority. Send your child to school with a few extra brushes and enough toothpaste, floss and mouthwash to get them through at least one semester.
Does your high school grad need a back-to-school check-up? Contact Steckbeck Family Dentistry for more information.
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