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CompBenefits Recommends Brushing Up on Children's Oral Health


Atlanta, Georgia – February 26, 2007 – Since 1981, February has been designated by The American Dental Association (ADA) as Children's Dental Health Month. The purpose of this nationwide awareness campaign is to emphasize the need to establish good oral health habits early. CompBenefits supports the ADA's awareness campaign by offering educational information on proper oral health for children at the company's consumer website: www.compbenefitsdirect.com

According to the ADA, like diet and exercise, good oral hygiene habits contribute to a child's overall health. Untreated dental problems may result in pain, dysfunction, underweight, poor appearance and speaking difficulties — problems that can greatly reduce a child's capacity to succeed in school and can affect their overall self-esteem. Teaching a child proper oral care at a young age is an investment in his or her health that will pay lifelong dividends and help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.

Tooth decay (dental caries) is the single most common chronic disease of childhood, up to eight times more common than asthma, says the ADA which recommends regular dental check-ups, including a visit to the dentist within six months of the eruption of the first tooth, and no later than the child's first birthday.

Routine dental exams uncover problems that can be treated in the early stages, when damage is minimal and restorations may be small. Parents can start by setting an example. Also, by making tooth care fun and a priority, such as brushing along with your children or letting them choose their own toothbrush, parents can encourage proper oral care at a young age.

To help children protect their teeth and gums and greatly reduce their risk of getting cavities, teach them and reinforce these simple habits:
  • Brush twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque-the sticky film on teeth that's the main cause of tooth decay. Make sure that your child uses only a pea-sized dab of toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush and that they do not swallow the toothpaste. Also, remember to brush the tongue.
  • Floss daily to remove plaque from between teeth and under the gumline, before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning. Parents should floss children's teeth (as they form and meet) and continue doing so until about age 8 when most children can begin flossing for themselves.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that limits starchy or sugary foods, which produce plaque acids that cause tooth decay. When you do eat these foods, try to eat them with your meal instead of as a snack-the extra saliva produced during a meal helps rinse food from the mouth.
  • Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.
  • Make sure that your children's drinking water is fluoridated. If your water supply does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist or pediatrician about daily fluoride supplements.
  • Ask the dentist about dental sealants, a protective plastic coating that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
  • Ask your dentist about using a mouth protector for children involved in a recreational activity, such as soccer, hockey, football, roller blading, riding a scooter and even bicycling. There are "stock" mouth guards available in stores and a better-fitting variety, which are custom fitted by your dentist.
  • Contact your dentist immediately with any injury such as a broken, cracked or chipped tooth. If possible keep any part of the tooth that has broken off. If a tooth is completely knocked out, handle the tooth as little as possible and do not wipe clean. Store the tooth in water or milk until you get to the dentist, since it may be possible to reimplant back into your child's mouth.
  • Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups.
    -- Source: Children's Dental Health Project (www.cdhp.org)
According to Dr. Charlie Stewart, Clinical Director for CompBenefits, "Study after study indicates that failure to prevent and repair dental problems has long-term physical and financial effects."

Adds Dr. Stewart, "Children of families without health coverage are five times more likely than insured children to have an unmet dental need. Without access to regular preventive dental services, dental care for many children is postponed until symptoms, such as toothache and facial abscess, become so acute that care is sought in hospital emergency rooms."

Dental insurance plays an important role in accessing preventive dental care. Many children lack access to dental care, which is a critical component in achieving good oral health. In 2000, the U.S. Surgeon General called dental disease a "silent epidemic" and encouraged parents, politicians and people who care about children to address this issue in their communities.

CompBenefits began offering dental coverage in 1978. Today, CompBenefits' dental plans offer access to a dedicated network of oral surgeons, orthodontists, pedodontists, endodontists, periodontists and prostodontists focused on providing quality oral health care. CompBenefits invites consumers to explore the wide spectrum of plans that are affordable and flexible to meet each family's needs.

About CompBenefits
CompBenefits Corporation, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, provides dental and vision benefit plans to over 4.8 million members in 31 states. CompBenefits offers a diversified portfolio of products designed to fulfill the oral health and eye health benefit needs of public and private sector employer groups, government-sponsored plans, health plans, and individuals. For more information, visit the company's website at: www.compbenefits.com.

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