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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Experts: Good oral health starts at a young age

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Friday, February 16, 2024   

February is Children's Dental Health Month, and Minnesota 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 cavities in their baby teeth by age eight.

Dr. Rosalie Perpich, president of the Minnesota Dental Association, said you can set a good path by scheduling exams as young as age three -- or have kids accompany a parent to their appointment -- to see the importance of preventive dental health. She noted an important tip for the home setting.

"Sometimes, parents don't know that their children should really only have water if they're gonna have something at night when they go to bed," Perpich advised. "Because anything with sugar or juices can be hard on the teeth, especially when they go to bed."

Perpich emphasized letting a child's cavities go unaddressed can lead to infection and swelling. Not only does it lead to more health concerns, but the child can lose sleep and become distracted in school.

Paul McConnell, dental director for UnitedHealthcare, said good oral hygiene routines have a lasting impact on 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 also connected to the development of pneumonia, diabetes and heart disease. McConnell added it can adversely affect pregnant women as well, and cause or be related to lower birth weights 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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