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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.

MI Kindergarten Oral Health Assessment and what it means for kids

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Friday, February 16, 2024   

A new Michigan law signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in December will expand access to dental care for children statewide.

Once funding is approved to expand the dental health pilot program known as KOHA, kindergartners starting school this fall will be required to get an oral health assessment by a dental professional.

Norm Hess, executive director of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health, said the rollout will take time and there will be a grace period for parents but ultimately, the program will be good for Michigan kids.

"As far as public health programs go, it has got a lot of benefit at a relatively low cost," Hess explained. "Every child that is going into Kindergarten -- which is more than 100,000 every year in Michigan -- will benefit from this program."

Hess emphasized adult teeth and oral health are very much affected by the condition of their first set of "baby" teeth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood in the United States, and more than half of children have had a cavity by age eight.

Paul McConnell, dental director for UnitedHealthcare, said anytime is a great time to focus on building healthy dental habits for children to continue throughout their life. He recommended parents start showing children the importance of a dental health routine including brushing and flossing from as early as a few months of age, so it is not a big adjustment when they are older.

"Putting a timer on your phone so that you do it at the same time every day -- in the morning and in the evening -- or tying it to another activity," McConnell advised. "That way, you link one habit to another, and it's hard to break those habits when they've already been linked together."

The Mayo Clinic said cardiovascular disease, pregnancy complications or birth issues, pneumonia, diabetes and even Alzheimer's disease may be linked to poor oral hygiene, so early care will help with prevention.

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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