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Winter Edition - January 2022

Start the New Year Off Right

The beginning of a new year serves as a reminder to schedule your child's six-month dental checkup. Starting young and establishing a relationship with a caring dentist can make all the difference in your child's dental and overall health.

Many adults who are fearful of the dentist cite an early childhood experience at a dental office as the reason for their anxiety. Offices that don't cater to children and appear cold and clinical can instill fear in kids. Choosing a pediatric dentist or a provider that makes accommodations to help children feel comfortable is important. This can drastically reduce the risk of your child growing up with a dental fear and as a result, they will be more excited about getting proper dental care and have better oral health as an adult.


National Children's Dental Health Month

Each February, the American Dental Association sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Developing good habits at a young age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

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Brush Up – Your Child’s Health Depends on It

Brought to you by: Children's Medical Services Health Plan

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Dental hygiene is one of the most important things you can teach your child.


Did you know your child’s oral hygiene could affect the rest of their health? Children with special health care needs have a higher risk of getting cavities. Poor oral health is also linked to other illnesses and diseases such as diabetes.


Follow the American Dental Association’s guidelines:


Brush: Have your child brush twice a day. Make sure they use a soft-bristled toothbrush and replace it every three to four months.


Fluoride: Have your child brush with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps protect their teeth from cavities.


Floss: Help your child remember to floss every day to remove food from in between their teeth.


Keep your child’s mouth – and body – healthy. See your child’s dentist regularly and ask how you can improve your child’s oral health.


Get the Most Out of Your Child's Dental Benefits

By: Dr. Amber Bonnaig, DDS

on behalf of DentaQuest

Research shows oral health contributes to your child’s overall health, with links to heart disease, brain diseases, respiratory health and more.

For example:

  • Tooth decay can contribute directly to clogged arteries in adulthood. 
  • People with gum disease are three times more likely to have a stroke.
  • Chronic gum disease is associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.


Because of the many ways oral health can impact your child’s body, maintaining dental coverage is an important step toward maintaining your child’s overall health.


Simply having dental coverage isn’t enough – your child needs to use it! Being proactive is the best way to treat concerns early on so those concerns don’t cost your child’s health and your wallet down the road.


Most dental plans typically cover the entire cost of preventative care like checkups, cleanings and x-rays. Other procedures like fillings, extractions, crowns and root canals are also covered in most cases. 

Take care of your child’s oral health now, not only for their teeth and smile, but for their heart, lungs and brain too!


Autism and Oral Health

Brought to you by: MCNA Dental

Children with autism are more sensitive to objects, sounds and smells which can often prevent them from keeping up with good oral hygiene habits at home. Affected children may also fear going to the dentist for dental cleanings and checkups. Both are factors which may lead to a higher risk of oral health issues.  

The following tips may help a child with autism have a better dental visit: 


  • Sit with your child and describe what will happen in advance. Help your child picture what happens at the dentist. Respond to any questions they may have. 

  • Schedule a tour in the weeks or days before the visit. You can discuss your child’s needs with the dentist or staff at that time. 

  • Ask if your child can sit in the chair without being treated. Explain that the chair will move up and down and lean back. 

  • Go to the same dentist each time. This will help to create a routine that may calm their fears. 

  • After a successful visit, reward your child. Offer small treats such as stickers or pencils. 

Case management programs work to ensure that children with autism receive care that meets their unique needs. These programs can help the families of children with autism and other special health care needs locate providers and schedule appointments. Please contact your child’s medical and dental plans to see if care management is right for your child. 

childhood diabetes

Childhood Diabetes and Dental Health

Brought to you by: Argus Dental

Diabetes is a chronic disease that can affect children. Diabetes means the body cannot produce or does not respond well to a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps to control the body’s sugar levels by allowing the use of sugar for immediate energy and then storing the rest for later use. 

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. In type 1 diabetes the body cannot make insulin properly. In type 2 diabetes the body produces insulin but does not respond well to it. 

Insulin injections and oral medications can help manage diabetes, but attention to diet and lifestyle practices is also necessary. It is important for parents to help children develop healthy eating habits, placing limitations on sugary foods and drinks, fried foods, and foods high in carbohydrates. Regular physical activity is also recommended.

Uncontrolled childhood diabetes can have a negative impact on dental health. There can be an increased risk of gum inflammation, bone loss, oral infection and delayed wound healing.

Gum disease also can make diabetes more difficult to control. Dry mouth symptoms are prevalent with the disease and can lead to tooth decay.

Parents should ensure their children maintain good oral hygiene, schedule routine dental check-ups and actively monitor diet and exercise habits. 

With awareness and a proactive approach, the effects of childhood diabetes on dental health can be successfully managed.


The Eyes are the Window to the Soul

Brought to you by: Community Care Plan

February also is Low Vision Awareness Month. Here are a few ways to protect your child's eyes and vision for a lifetime:

  • Yearly check-ups - A well child visit includes a vision screening. Your child’s doctor can monitor vision changes from year to year and will refer your child to an eye care specialist, if needed.
  • Healthy eating - A varied diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is key, as it ensures your child is getting the different vitamins and minerals needed to protect their eyes and eyesight.
  • Reduce screen time - These days, we live in front of computer, TV and phone screens which can overwork eye muscles and harm vision. Kids should take frequent breaks from the screen, including anything that focuses their eyes for long periods, such as crafts, puzzles or reading.
  • Get outdoors - One hour in the fresh air daily will give your child’s eye muscles a break.
  • Sunglasses - While enjoying the fresh air, sunglasses are important to protect eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are a lot of kid friendly options but make sure they offer 100% UV protection.
  • Sports goggles - There are 1.5 million emergency room visits annually from sports injuries. Encourage your child to wear protective goggles during sports. Let them know their sports idols wear them too! 

Set the right example at home. These tips will help protect your child’s eyes and vision, and yours too. Remember, your child (and their healthy eyes) will be watching you!


Toy Story

By: Olunwa Ikpeazu, M.D.

on behalf of Aetna Better Health of Florida

Children love toys, so parents, family and friends often find ways to give children what they love: toys. However, in the eagerness to give a gift of joy, it can be easy to forget about safety. Let’s keep safety top of mind as we share this “Toy Story!”

Toys with ropes and cords pose a strangulation hazard and should especially be avoided for young children. 

Older children’s toys should be kept away from younger siblings. 

You should not allow children to charge toy batteries unsupervised; thermal burns are a hazard to young children. 


Shop for toys that do not have sharp edges or lots of little parts a toddler or baby can put in their mouth. Small parts pose a choking hazard.

Toys that have an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) label should be purchased, as this shows that the toy meets national standards.

Only children four years and older should have toys with detachable small parts because the risk of choking is higher in kids younger than four. 

Read packaging to be certain the age and skill level match the age and skill of the child you are buying for. 

Young children love playing with plastic wrapping or other toy packaging; ensure these are discarded immediately. Also, keep kids away from balloons, which are a suffocation danger, button batteries and magnets. Ingestion of these can be fatal. 


Let’s all be mindful of toy safety so we can make our “Toy Story” a cheerful tale with a happy ending. 


Choosing the Right Doctor for Your Child

Brought to you by: Simply Healthcare Plans

The doctor you choose for your child is up to you. There are many ways to find out if a doctor is the right fit — location, the language they speak, when they are open and more. You can find a doctor who fits both your needs and your child’s needs. 


Here are some tips to help you find the right pediatrician: 


Ask someone you trust.

Asking family members or friends is a quick way to learn who the people you trust, trust with their children. 


Look at office websites.

  • Is the office close to where I live or work? 
  • How flexible are the hours? 
  • Do they offer same-day appointments? 
  • What languages do they speak? 
  • What are their specialties? 
  • Do they offer virtual appointments? 
  • How much medical training and experience does the doctor have? 


Meet or visit the doctor. 

Once you have a list of a few doctors, schedule a call or visit. Write down your questions beforehand and take notes during your visit.

  • Do the staff and doctors make me and my child feel comfortable? 
  • Are they professional and welcoming? 
  • Are they good listeners? 
  • Do they explain things clearly to me? 


Trust your instincts. You decide what is most important when choosing a pediatrician for your child. Knowing more about the doctors and their offices will help you choose the best option.

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Building a Trauma-Informed School

Brought to you by: Jacksonville Public Education Fund

In Duval County public schools, more than a quarter of high-school students have experienced a high level of trauma.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, trauma negatively impacts health, education and earning potential. It disrupts the cognitive processes essential for learning.

Building trauma-informed schools is one way to help children who have experienced trauma in their lives. Trauma-Informed care provides educators the tools to better serve students by shifting the paradigm of student behavior. Instead of asking “What’s wrong with you?” it asks, “What happened to you?”

One approach to providing trauma-informed care is called “Trust-Based Relational Intervention” (TBRI). TBRI was created by the Karyn Purvis Institute at Texas Christian University and is an attachment based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the needs of vulnerable children. It gives educators the tools to understand the signs of trauma and help students feel safe in the school environment.

Duval County Public Schools has seen promising results in student outcomes by using TBRI.

At Jacksonville Heights Elementary, educators who took TBRI training saw a positive difference in student behavior and performance during end of the year testing. They practiced breathing exercises, provided snacks, and offered water breaks during testing. They credit this success to students having more control over their emotions and bodies.

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund pilots and scales research-based practices and supports principals to learn about and implement trauma-informed care in their schools. 

Here are tools that can help schools implement trauma-informed care in their classrooms:


For more information, visit or contact 904-356-7757.


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