Lt. Gov., Congressman Address Childhood Dental Care

CHEVERLY, Md. (WJZ) — Healthy smile, healthy kids. Maryland lawmakers are on Capitol Hill working to improve dental care for children.

Jessica Kartalija explains the push for improved care comes years after a Maryland child died from a tooth infection.

Five years ago this month, Deamonte Driver, 12, died from an abscessed tooth. His death led to major changes in the children’s health insurance program.

Now Maryland lawmakers are kicking off National Children’s Dental Health Month in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of oral health.

“We redouble our efforts as a state to ensure we’re doing everything we can,” said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown.

A Metlife study just released finds parents aren’t following recommended guidelines for brushing or flossing. Twenty-three percent of parents have been told their children are at risk for tooth decay.

The agency’s tips include avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle and checking their teeth regularly for spots and stains. For toddlers to teens, health officials say make sure to brush teeth with a fluoride toothpaste and floss regularly.

Following Driver’s death, Congressman Elijah Cummings worked to expand children’s access to include oral healthcare. Thanks to a law passed in 2009, children now receive dental coverage. It’s all in an effort to prevent another tragedy like Driver’s death in the future.

The Office of the Surgeon General reminds parents if you are on a well system or live in a community — like many areas here in Maryland — that doesn’t have fluoride in your drinking water, it’s important to give your children a fluoride treatment.

Some dentests say prolonged use of a pacifier or bottle can increase the likelihood a child will become a candidate for orthodontics.

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