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April 19, 2024 7:18 pm

Local News

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

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Danielle Smith, Public News Service

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.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.