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Why do we see an Increase in Dental Cavities during College Years?

January 12, 2011 in Dentistry by McCarl Dental Group

College is a time for new experiences, new friends, and unfortunately – new cavities. A diet high in sugar combined with changes in personal hygiene cause tooth decay and a dramatic increase in dental cavities during college years.

Today’s hectic college lifestyle is filled with fast food, sugar-packed coffees and soft drinks. Even diet sodas increase the likelihood of cavities because bacteria thrive in an acidic environment. Sugar-loving bacteria that are normally present in and around the teeth produce byproducts which cause breakdown of tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay and dental cavities. The Greenbelt Office of McCarl Dental Group is 10 minutes from University of Maryland College Park Campus. Students with dental concerns are often referred to our Greenbelt office directly from the University Health Center. The College Park Shuttle Bus stops right in front of our Greenbelt dental office. McCarl Dentists offer same day emergency dental treatment. We can also help order replacement Invisalign trays and, of course, offer a full range of preventive dental health services. Our new patient visit costs only $45 for a comprehensive dental exam, professional hygiene cleaning and necessary x-rays.

Symptoms of cavities and tooth decay vary depending on the location and depth. Initially, cavities may not cause symptoms. As tooth decay progresses, it may cause tooth sensitivity or a toothache.  A toothache can cause varying degrees of pain when you bite down or when you eat or drink something sweet, hot, or cold. There may be visible holes or pits in your teeth which can also cause discomfort or pain in your mouth or jaw. A dental cavity will not get better on its own. If you’re experiencing one or more cavity symptoms, it’s time to see your dentist at McCarl Dental Group in Greenbelt and Millersville Maryland.

When you have a dental cavity, your dentist will remove the bacteria and decay and fill the cavity to restore strength to the tooth. In deep cavities, the nerve of the tooth may also be infected. This requires additional cleaning of the infected nerve called a “root canal”. Luckily, this only occurs in the deepest of cavities. Usually there are warning signs, such as sensitivity to extreme temperatures and to sweet foods.

“Pit and fissure” cavities are the most common type of cavities. Back teeth or molars have natural grooves, fissures and pits on their chewing surface.  Toothbrush bristles cannot reach inside deep pits, grooves, or fissures, which allows plaque and tartar to accumulate. During college years, flossing is often ignored, leading to tooth decay and cavities in between the teeth. Because of their location, cavities between the teeth or “interproximal” cavities are frequently only seen with an x-ray.

Preventing Dental Cavities

The first step in preventing cavities is to maintain good oral hygiene to minimize bacterial colonization. This includes brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily. It is also important to eat well-balanced, nutritious meals with limited snacking. The use of a fluoride rinse also helps strengthen tooth enamel.  Although college schedules are busy, it is very important to maintain regularly scheduled dental visits for teeth cleaning and fluoride treatment.  Dental exams improve the likelihood of early detection of cavities and treatment with a small rather than large filling.

Complete this checklist before you return to college!

1. Schedule a dental check up now. Call 410-987-8800 -we were voted best dentists in Millersville Maryland 21108 and 301-474-4144 for a top dentist in Greenbelt Maryland 20770.

2. Get your wisdom teeth checked. Wisdom teeth often erupt during college years. If they are not correctly aligned or are impacted they can cause pain or get infected requiring emergency dental care.

3. Ask for an NTI nightguard appliance. College students frequently experience stress. Grinding and clenching your teeth can cause chipping and excessive wear to your teeth, NTI dental mouthguards can eliminate the pain and discomfort associated with teeth grinding.

4. Want to dazzle your new friends with your smile? Have your teeth whitened!


Best wishes from your dentists and dental hygienists at McCarl Dental Group!

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8601 Veterans Hwy, Suite 101, Millersville, MD 21108 USA
Dr. Clayton McCarl, Jr. Millersville, MD cosmetic, restorative, & preventive dentistry.
28 Ridge Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770 USA
Dr. Clayton McCarl, Jr. Greenbelt, MD cosmetic, restorative, & preventive dentistry. (301) 474-4144