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Local News

GA dental health experts stress importance of early prevention for children


Shanteya Hudson, Public News Service

February is Children’s Dental Health Month and experts are urging parents to establish good dental health early.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cavities are the most common chronic disease in children across the nation.

Paul McConnell, dental director for UnitedHealthcare, said while tooth decay may not seem significant for baby teeth, it can lead to issues with permanent teeth, speech and overall health. He stressed the importance of helping children build a consistent dental routine.

“It’s so much harder to start developing habits when kids are six, seven, eight years old because you’re introducing something that’s different or something that’s foreign,” McConnell pointed out. “Starting when they’re just born to a year old and then progressively adding flossing into that routine.”

McConnell highlighted the importance of regular dental visits for children. He acknowledged access to dental care can be limited in rural areas but suggested community health centers, local colleges and dental schools as options for getting young people the care they need.

Clayton State University’s dental clinic in Morrow is helping bridge the gap in access to dental care.

Heather Eddy, senior clinic director at Clayton State University, said it has been serving the community for 50 years, particularly assisting people with lower incomes or insufficient dental coverage. In celebration of Children’s Dental Health Month, it is hosting a free dental clinic for kids aged 3-17.

“The services include the screening process, radiograph, their prophylaxis which is dental cleaning, and then fluoride and sealant,” Eddy outlined. “We’re really grateful to our partners at Patterson Dental for supplying a lot of the items that we’ll be able to use this week.”

Eddy emphasized the importance of regular dental checkups because some children may not express when they have dental issues, leaving serious problems untreated. She added caregivers play a vital role in establishing preventive habits. The clinic will be open from today through Friday.

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