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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

For Children's Dental Health Month, expert tips on avoiding cavities

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Monday, February 12, 2024   

February is Children's Dental Health Month - and experts advise parents to start with the basics right away, even with newborns.

Parents should clean their baby's gums with water and a soft cloth. Once teeth emerge, use a soft bristle toothbrush twice a day with a dab of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice.

Dr. John Blake, the executive director and dental director with the Children's Dental Health Clinic in Long Beach, said that's also the time to book the child's first dental appointment.

"They get most or all of their primary teeth or baby teeth by the time they're two years old, typically," said Blake. "So, if people wait 'til they think the child may be able to sit and have an exam, often there's already dental cavities on the teeth. So: first teeth, first visit."

Some parents may mistakenly think cavities are no big deal in baby teeth because they are going to fall out.

But decay in baby teeth may harm the permanent teeth that are developing underneath and also lead to pain, infection or even issues with speaking.

Dental decay is the most common chronic condition among children, with nearly 50% of kids having at least one cavity by age eight.

Dr. Paul McConnell is dental director with UnitedHealthcare. He said parents need to actively guide their kids on brushing and flossing correctly until they get it down pat.

"It's so much harder to start developing habits when kids are 6, 7, 8 years old because you're introducing something different or foreign," said McConnell. "So again, start when they're just born to two years old and then progressively add flossing into that routine."

Flossing is important as a lifelong habit because nearly half of adults 30 and older and 70% of people over 65 have some form of gum disease.



Disclosure: UnitedHealthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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