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Uncovering America's methamphetamine history; PA Early Intervention programs vital for child development; measuring long-term impact of the O.J. Simpson trial on media literacy.

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President Biden's name could be left off the ballot in Alabama and Ohio, the Justice Dept. mandates background checks for gun show purchases, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds moves to allow state police to arrest undocumented migrants.

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Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

Expert tips to prevent cavities for Children's Dental Health Month

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Thursday, February 15, 2024   

During Children's Dental Health Month in February, parents are encouraged to establish good oral health habits early on so kids can avoid dental problems down the road.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of children have experienced cavities in their baby teeth by age eight.

Dr. Sam Mansour, a dentist in Erie, Pennsylvania chair for National Children's Dental Health Month and one of the few general dentists in Erie who works with special-needs patients along with treating underprivileged children, said tooth decay prevention is critical for kids, noting the American Dental Association has long advocated adding fluoride to drinking water.

"My biggest item I tell parents is, stop giving snacks or any kind of major drinks an hour before bedtime," Mansour recommended. "I typically promote having parents help children brush properly and floss, typically to floss nightly. And a good fluoride rinse like ACT will help out."

Mansour pointed out the Pennsylvania Dental Association has pressed lawmakers to increase funding for dental care. Legislators recently allocated more money in the state budget to help underprivileged children and adults access dental treatment, which Mansour said will help people get their oral health back on track.

Paul McConnell, dental director for UnitedHealthcare, said good oral hygiene routines have a lasting effect on your teeth and gums. For example, periodontal disease, a major concern for older adults, can be prevented with proper care from a young age.

"Chronic periodontal disease is something that does affect the majority of our adult population," McConnell explained. "Nearly half of adults 30 and older have some form of gum disease, and this increases to 70% of people 65 years and older. Daily flossing is key for avoiding the development and/or progression of periodontal disease."

Research shows poor oral health is connected to the development of pneumonia, diabetes and heart disease. And McConnell added it can actually affect pregnant women and cause or be related to lower birthrate or other birth complications.

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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