Dental care for young adults – advice and tips

8th August 2021 | Posted by: Vanessa Giraud

It’s the time of year when you may be getting ready to leave home. Exam results are out. The school holidays are nearing an end. You’ve been offered a place, or signed a job contract. Soon you’ll have packed your bags. With so much to think about we can understand why, as a young adult, dental care isn’t on your mind.

So we’ve done some of the thinking for you to help you keep your teeth in good shape. It’s one more last nag from people who care about you!

Leaving home means new responsibilities

Up until now, you may not have needed to make your own appointments to go to the dentist. Perhaps you’ve never even had to buy your own tubes of toothpaste! So there’s a lot of new things to take on once you leave home. As so many of the decisions we make and the actions we take when we’re in our late teens and twenties impact on the rest of our lives, it’s important to make good choices. If you take great care of your physical well-being, that’s one of the best decisions you may ever make.

dental care for young adults

1. The best dental care begins at home

Like most things in life, if you put in the time, you reap the rewards. If you look after your teeth now, they’ll serve you well for longer. And they’ll cost you less too. Don’t let the change in life-style alter the good habits you’ve established.

A regular and thorough oral health routine stands you in good stead for the future. It’s a fact that healthy-looking teeth are an asset when you’re going to job interviews. It helps to look well-groomed, as though you care about yourself, and confident. Why not check your flossing and consider tongue scraping too!

Take some time to make sure that you’re in excellent oral health. And then you’ll see what opportunities a smile can bring!

2. Ask a health professional about HPV

There’s been so much talk about the virus causing Covid-19, it’s easy to forget about other contagious viruses and the effects they can have. Each year an increasing number of men are diagnosed with mouth cancer linked to the human papillomavirus virus (HPV).

For over ten years, HPV vaccinations have been given to girls in school because it protects against two strains of HPV linked with 75% of cervical cancers. From September 2019 boys in Year 8 are offered the HPV vaccine for protection against some cancers including mouth cancer.

If you weren’t vaccinated at school, ask your GP for more information about having a catch up course of treatment. It involves two or three injections over a six to 12 month period. The NHS offers it to people under 26 as part of the ongoing vaccination programme. Some high street pharmacies offer the vaccination service for older people, but it costs over £450 for three injections.

3. Form good habits

Being independent means making your own choices. Getting involved in activities or going to a gym will be good for your health – just set sensible goals and avoid sports injuries.

Consciously avoid falling into bad habits or making choices that could harm your long-term health. If you’ve lasted until leaving home without becoming a smoker, it’s not worth taking it up now. We all know it’s bad for our health, and hard to quit. Moreover, smoking makes your breath smell and your teeth yellow.

A lesser known problem is that smoking affects the flow of blood to the gums so they are less likely to bleed. As bleeding gums are an early indicator of gum disease, this means people often don’t realise they have periodontitis until it’s too late. It’s a fact that smokers are more likely to have missing teeth.

Alcohol is not your friend either. Apart from the well known problems with drinking, it is also has a lot of sugar. People who drink a lot are often not good at night-time dental hygiene routines which means the bacteria feast on sugar all night, forming the plaque that leads to dental decay and gum disease.

4. Invest in an electric toothbrush

An electric toothbrush can save your teeth! Although a manual brush used well can be as effective, it’s that ‘used well’ stipulation that’s the problem.

It’s much easier to use a good electric toothbrush well. Splash out on one! Make sure it has a pressure sensor and a quadrant timer. Also, remember to change the head every three months.

And use it! Every day, twice a day, especially last thing at night. And especially if you’ve been out on the town with some mates.

5. Make the most of what you have

Say no to the influencers of social media and peer pressure. Being fit and healthy is the best look you can have.  So don’t be tempted to make drastic changes to your appearance, especially if it involves chemicals and/or needles. And if the price is too good to believe, then it’s probably not good at all.

There’s evidence that cheap tooth-whitening products and kits can damage teeth and gums. If you really want lighter coloured teeth it’s best to ask a dental professional for advice. As tooth whitening is a cosmetic treatment, it’s not available on the NHS. However, most private dentists prescribe and supervise tray whitening for less than the cost of a new winter coat.

As there’s a lot of pressure to achieve a flawless appearance, younger people are turning to fillers and Botox. But you can be hurt and even disfigured by these treatments. Be sure you only trust qualified practitioners in a controlled environment.

Before turning to expensive cosmetic fixes, spend some time working on routine hair and skin care, exercise and oral hygiene to look and feel better. Please note that this advise is not gender specific, but relevant to everyone.

6. If available, book an NHS dental appointment

Make the most of free NHS dental care for young adults while you can.  While you are still 18, the bill for your NHS dental care is footed by the National Health Service, so long as you are still in full-time education.

So if you’re going to university or college and still have some months to go before your nineteenth birthday, why not make an appointment? It’s worth getting your teeth sorted for no cost to yourself while you still can. It won’t be long anyway before you’re paying your National Insurance contributions to help fund the service.

As a registered NHS patient, once you turn 19 you will need to pay tiered charges to cover dental health costs and pay for prescriptions too.

If you’re going to university or college, it’s a good idea to register with the campus health centre. Ask their advice about dental practices for students too so you can register with a dentist. It’s always a good idea ot be registered for medical and dental services close to where you will spend the majority of your time in case you have an emergency.

Depending on your circumstances you may be entitles to free dental treatment. The NHS Low Income Scheme helps cover medical and dental expenses. You can fill in an HC1 form available online. NHS dental patients given an HC2 certificate are eligible for free dental care. People given an HC3 certificate receive partial help.

SpaDental NHS Dental care for young adults

Four SpaDental practices see NHS patients, although because of the pandemic most practices still have to prioritise urgent care needs so if you have healthy teeth getting an appointment may be hard.

Private dental practices also offer Dental Care plans to help patients spread the cost of routine private treatment over monthly payments. Plan patients can benefit from discounts on additional treatments. Contact your nearest practice for more information.

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