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Some NH Kids Meet their First Dentist – at a Museum

Granite State kids are getting the expert scoop on how to take good care of their teeth at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire this month. (Children's Museum of N.H.)
Granite State kids are getting the expert scoop on how to take good care of their teeth at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire this month. (Children's Museum of N.H.)
February 23, 2017

DOVER, N.H. — A museum may seem like an odd place for kids to have their first encounters with a dentist, but it’s not so unusual this month.

February is National Children's Dental Health Month, and according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, one in three children ages 2-5 is affected by tooth decay.

That’s one big reason the Children's Museum of New Hampshire in Dover is offering daily programs on dental health, said Neva Cole, the communications director at the museum. This Friday morning, February 24, a local dentist will be on hand at the museum to meet with kids to teach them what their first visit to the dentist will be like.

"Because a lot of kids are a little scared and fearful about that first time,” Cole said. "And you know, when you start to lose your baby teeth, that can be kind of a scary thing. And, 'Why do we have to brush?' is always the question, 'Why do we have to floss?'"

A dozen local dentists will participate and some will provide free oral screenings as part of the museum's effort to spotlight National Children's Dental Health Month. Cole said every child who visits the Children's Museum this month will get a free toothbrush.

While parents often take charge of their children's health by choosing organic foods and being selective about their activities, pediatric dentist Mira Albert said trips to the dentist may be few and far between. She said it's critical to keep up with kids' dental health.

"Dental decay, especially in young children, can kind of go unnoticed. And it can begin to cause a lot of pain and infection that can lead to lost school days and lost work days while you're having these things treated,” Albert said. "It can be quite painful and destructive."

Tooth decay is preventable, she said. Parents should take children to the dentist by age 1 to help them learn to feel at ease when they do have to have dental work done. She also advises parents not to put babies to bed with a bottle, because it increases their chance of getting cavities.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH