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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.

Mississippians' access to oral health among worst in U.S.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2024   

The Magnolia State is in the top five for worst access to dental care, according to a county-by-county report. More than 70 million Americans live in communities without enough dental-care providers.

Dr. Paul McConnell, dental director with UnitedHealthcare, said families don't have to sacrifice their children's dental health if they can't find a provider, and added it's all about teaching kids good oral hygiene habits as early as possible, which they'll carry with them throughout their lives.

"Cleaning your baby's gums with water and a soft cloth starting from birth to one year old, and then as those teeth do start to emerge, you're going to use a soft-bristle toothbrush and a small dab of fluoride toothpaste, usually about the size of a grain of rice. And then you'll still continue to brush twice a day," he explained.

Limited access to dental care contributes to poor oral health, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. McConnell highlights the importance of regular dental visits for children. He acknowledged access to dental care can be limited in rural areas but suggests community health centers, local colleges and dental schools as options for getting young people the care they need.

McConnell 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. 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," McConnell continued.

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


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