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Your oral health may be at risk

Many college-age students are opting out of regular dental appointments in increasing numbers because of prices they can’t afford.

With dental costs rising yearly, it may be hard for college students to find room in their budget to fit in a trip to the dentist’s office, but with the increasing amount of students skipping the dentist, oral diseases are becoming more prevalent among undergraduate students.

One solution to this problem is low-cast, on-campus dental hygiene clinics, which Weber State University has.

3-31 Dental Hygiene (Gabe Cerritos)
Logan Carstensen takes care of his dental health by brushing his teeth. (Gabe Cerritos / The Signpost)

The dental hygiene clinic at WSU is located in the Marriott Health Sciences Building and offers a variety of oral preventative care options that range from non-surgical periodontal therapy and teeth cleanings to checking blood pressure and screening for oral cancer.

All services are offered at significantly lower lower costs compared to private clinics, but the staff maintains a high level of quality care.

The clinic is run by student clinicians through WSU’s Dental Hygiene Program. These clinicians are well trained and are especially concerned about the health of their fellow WSU students.

3-31 Dental Hygiene (Gabe Cerritos)
Assistant professor Shane Perry (left) and senior Rachel Souza (right) review 3d imaging. (Gabe Cerritos / The Signpost)

Ali Horton, a senior and student clinician expresses that there are many options for students that are available for people to keep their teeth healthy.

“We want to help them,” Horton said. “It is so rewarding.”

Susan Alexander, associate professor at WSU’s Dental Hygiene Program, said the biggest disease she sees among college students is gingivitis.

Alexander said young adults stop going to the dentist once they begin college, and it has a negative impact on their overall dental health.

In a recent study conducted at the University of Kentucky involving undergraduate students, it was discovered that more than 2/3 of all college students tested in the study had suffered from at least one type of oral disease.

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Senior Ali Horton works on her patient at the Dental Hygiene Clinic. (Gabe Cerritos / The Signpost)

Experts suggest that many college students are at a higher risk for oral disease because they practice unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as lack of sleep, high stress levels, consuming sugary drinks and skipping their regular visits to their oral healthcare providers.

Shelly Costley, associate professor in the Dental Hygiene Program, said a healthy mouth is vital for overall health.

“For years, people thought there was no connection between the mouth and the body,” Costley said. “The health of gums and teeth are an integral part of being healthy overall.”

The clinic is easily accessible to WSU’s students, and the professors of the Dental Hygiene program encourage students to come up to the clinic or call if they have any problems.

“We are here,” Frances McConaughy, associate professor of the Dental Hygiene Clinic, said. “We provide an important service.”

For more information on the program and clinic, visit their website.

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