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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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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.

VA pediatric dentists find online appointments growing

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Monday, February 26, 2024   

As part of Children's Dental Health Month, Virginia pediatric dentists are working to improve kids' dental health habits.

Recent surveys indicated more than 80% of kids in Virginia had no oral health problems, which may be in part because other studies show Medicaid has bolstered the number of children getting preventive dentist visits.

Dr. Robert 'Bobby' Lunka, a pediatric dentist in Charlottesville who has been practicing for 30 years, said since the pandemic, he has noticed more parents are interested in teledentistry.

"Speaking to parents over the phone and looking at photos, or like, even real-time videos, you know, like FaceTime and doing more appointments over the phone like that," Lunka explained. "Because it was tougher to bring their children in."

Some studies reported teledentistry is beneficial since it expands coverage to people who might otherwise struggle to get dental care. But lacking access to technology can make the option challenging. Lunka predicts newer technologies and even artificial intelligence can make children's dental health better in the future.

Some dentists focus on kids developing good oral-health habits early on.

Dr. Paul McConnell with UnitedHealthcare said parents usually start kids' dental-care routines ages 6-8. His advice is to start much earlier -- by age one or two -- to build lifelong habits. He noted poor dental habits can lead to a common trend later in life: periodontal disease.

"Nearly half of adults 30 and older have some form of gum disease and this increases to 70% of people 65 years and older," McConnell reported. "Daily flossing is key for avoiding the development or progression of periodontal disease."

He noted a water flosser or electric toothbrush can help people avoid gum disease. To build good dental habits, McConnell advised parents to try setting a time when kids brush their teeth, in the morning and at night. He added adults should model their own good dental health habits for kids to see and emulate.

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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