February is National Children’s Dental Health Month
LOS ANGELES -- (Business Wire)
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and Health
Net, Inc. (NYSE: HNT) reminds parents and caregivers about how to
prevent early childhood caries (ECC), otherwise known as “baby bottle
Dental Association (ADA) defines ECC as the presence of one or more
decayed or missing teeth or fillings in a child up to 71 months of age.
According to the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), ECC can occur when a child’s teeth come
in contact with too much sugar. Sugar facilitates the growth of
bacteria, and bacteria-produced acids can, in turn, cause tooth decay.
The NIH additionally notes that ECC often can be traced specifically to
liquids that contain sugar, including milk, formula, fruit juices, and
soft drinks. The NIH additionally points out that the potential for ECC
increases if a child sleeps or walks around with a bottle or training
cup containing a sugary liquid, because the sugar coats their teeth for
longer periods of time, causing teeth to decay more quickly.
“What many people don’t realize is that children who don’t receive
appropriate dental care can grow up to become adults with poor dental
health,” says Robert Shechet, D.D.S., director of dental programs for
Health Net, Inc.
Shechet explained that – as part of Health Net’s efforts to help reduce
the incidence of ECC and to set youngsters on a lifelong path of good
dental health – the company is working with primary care physicians to
educate parents regarding the importance of:
Scheduling a dental visit for children within six months of their
first tooth appearing, but no later than age 1;
Switching from bottles to cups by age 1; and
Helping children brush their teeth until age 7 and teaching them the
importance of oral hygiene and good nutrition.
ECC Takes Significant Toll
ECC is a serious medical issue. In fact, as reported by the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, ECC is the single most
common chronic childhood disease, as it is five times more common than
asthma, and seven times more common than hay fever. According to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ECC among children younger
than 6 years is prevalent, affecting nearly half of U.S. 5 year olds,
despite being highly preventable. The CDC further notes that ECC is
associated with lifelong cavities, because the process that results in
cavities – once established – tends to be stable and chronic.
The ADA adds that ECC exacts a significant toll on children, affecting
their development, school performance and behavior. And the NIH points
out that ECC often leads to pain and infection necessitating
hospitalization for dental extractions.
To prevent tooth decay, the NIH recommends the following actions:
Do not fill your child’s bottle with fluids that are high in sugar,
such as punch or soft drinks;
Put your child to bed with a bottle of water only – not juice, milk,
or other drinks;
Give children ages 6 months through 12 months only formula to drink in
Remove the bottle or stop nursing when your child has fallen asleep;
Avoid letting your child walk around using a bottle of juice or milk
as a pacifier;
Avoid prolonged use of pacifiers, and do not dip pacifiers in honey,
sugar, or syrup;
Work toward eliminating your child’s use of a bottle by age 12 months
to 14 months; and
Limit juice to fewer than 6 ounces per day during meals.
In relation to caring for your child's teeth, the NIH shares these tips:
After each feeding, gently wipe your child’s teeth and gums with a
clean washcloth or gauze to remove plaque;
Begin tooth brushing as soon as your child has teeth. Brush your teeth
together, at least at bedtime. If you have an infant or toddler, place
a small amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste on a washcloth and rub it
gently on their teeth. You can switch to fluoridated toothpaste when
you are sure that your child spits out all of the toothpaste after
brushing. Older children can use a toothbrush with soft, nylon
bristles. Use a very small amount of toothpaste (no more than the size
of a pea);
Start flossing children’s teeth when all of the primary (baby) teeth
have erupted (usually around 36 months); and
If your baby is 6 months or older, use fluoridated water or a fluoride
supplement if you have well water without fluoride. If you use bottled
water, make sure it contains fluoride.
Medical Advice Disclaimer
The information provided is not intended as medical advice or as a
substitute for professional medical care. Always seek the advice of your
physician or other health provider for any questions you may have
regarding your medical condition and follow your health care provider’s
About Health Net
Health Net, Inc. is a publicly traded managed care organization that
delivers managed health care services through health plans and
government-sponsored managed care plans. Its mission is to help people
be healthy, secure and comfortable. Health Net provides and administers
health benefits to approximately 5.4 million individuals across the
country through group, individual, Medicare (including the Medicare
prescription drug benefit commonly referred to as “Part D”), Medicaid,
Department of Defense, including TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs.
Through its subsidiaries, Health Net also offers behavioral health,
substance abuse and employee assistance programs, managed health care
products related to prescription drugs, managed health care product
coordination for multi-region employers, and administrative services for
medical groups and self-funded benefits programs.
For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit Health Net’s
website at www.healthnet.com.
This release contains links to other sites that are not owned or
controlled by Health Net. Please be aware that Health Net is not
responsible for the contents linked or referred to from this release.
Links to other websites are provided for the user’s convenience. Health
Net does not express an opinion on the content or the properties of such
linked websites and disclaims any liability in connection therewith.
Health Net, Inc.
Lori Rieger, 602-794-1415
Source: Health Net, Inc.
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