More than obesity and asthma, dental decay is now the leading preventable childhood disease in the U.S. It robs kids of over 51 million hours of school each year.
The tooth decay problem is widespread in the Tampa Bay area as well.
Dentists say what we eat and drink, especially such cavity-causers as soda, fruit juice and sports drinks, can be just as harmful as not brushing or flossing at all.
Besides dental visits, local dentists say parents need to be vigilant at home -- not just about brushing regularly and carefully, but also paying attention to their kids' diet.
For young children, handing them a toothbrush and pointing them to the bathroom sink is not enough. They need to be taught how to correctly brush, especially their back teeth which they may ignore altogether due to discomfort.
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In order to get kids ready for school, the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County will host a Back-to-School no-cost dental clinic for children ages 4 through 18 without insurance on Saturday, July 15.
No appointments are necessary. Children and teens will be scheduled first come, first serve basis. A parent or guardian must accompany the child to receive free dental exams and X-rays.
The free dental care will be offered from 8 a.m. to noon at the DOH clinic located at 6350 76th Avenue N. in Pinellas Park.