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Ask the Dentist: A reminder to new university students – don't forget your teeth

With new people, a new place, partying and, hopefully, studying to cope with, new university students would do well to remember their oral hygiene, writes Lucy Stock, dentist at Gentle Dental Care in Belfast

Brush up on things such as charges for dental care as you head off on your third-level adventure
Lucy Stock

STARTING University is often an action-packed time full of new experiences, and with so much going on taking care of teeth can take a back seat until something goes wrong and pain rears its head.

It may come as a bit of shock for students when they arrive at university as up until now health care has been free under the NHS but some things start to be charged for.

Students are eligible for free dental treatment if they’re under 19 and in full-time education or pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months. If getting pregnant just to get free dental treatment is a step too far, some students may still be able to get free treatment by applying to the NHS Low Income Support Scheme.

If you do have to pay then NHS dental charges are based on courses of treatment, which fall into one of four categories. The costs range from £21.60 (covers basic examinations, X-rays, dental advice and cleaning) to £256.50, which covers more extensive work like crowns and bridges.

The NHS will not provide cosmetic treatments such as teeth whitening to flash that smile at all the uni parties; whitening, while it does make your teeth more attractive, has boringly been appraised by killjoys as not clinically necessary.

A check-up for students at their normal dentist well before uni can be a great idea to give time to fix any lurking problems and give a motivational push to take care of teeth while away.

Sometimes just before uni is the time that young people want to sort out teeth that have been knocked out due to an accident or are missing because they never grew in. It’s often helpful to have teeth-replacement discussions with the dentist before starting studies.

Making sure the student is armed with the necessary cleaning paraphernalia can help to tip the scales into maintaining good oral hygiene and fresh breath. Electric toothbrushes and water jet flossers are not gimmicks, they really work to blast away the debris. Remember to include the toothbrush chargers – and plug adaptors if studying abroad.

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