2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
In recent years, it has been found that more than two-thirds of college students suffer from oral diseases. These diseases not only cause pain and discomfort, but also result in functional problems. In addition, students with dental problems have reported having lower self-image and experience social anxiety. Dental professionals agree that the most common causes for these oral diseases are diet and lifestyle. The relationship between the lifestyle (sleep, stress level, and hygiene practices) and diet of college students and dental health was examined in 200 undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky. The participants included 50 male students (age 20.54 +/- 1.59 years) and 150 female students (age 19.77 +/- 1.4 years). The students completed surveys inquiring about their diet, lifestyle, oral hygiene, and prevalence of any dental diseases during their college years. It was found that 21.5% of participants suffered from dental problems during their college years. Fifty-two percent of participants reported going to bed at least once a week without brushing their teeth. Of this 52%, 26.2% reported dental problems. On the other hand, of the 48% of participants who always brushed their teeth before bed, only 16.7% reported dental problems. In addition, it was found that the prevalence of dental problems increased with the consumption of coffee/tea and sugar-sweetened beverages. Also, those participants who reported utilizing dental services less were more likely to have dental problems. Because of the prevalence of dental problems and lack of oral hygiene among college students, students need to be informed of the potential dangers associated with their lifestyle and diet in regards to oral health.