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Health Net Helping Raise Awareness of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay



  Health Net Helping Raise Awareness of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

             February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Business Wire

LOS ANGELES -- February 12, 2013

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and Health Net, Inc.
(NYSE: HNT) reminds parents and caregivers about how to prevent early
childhood caries (ECC), otherwise known as “baby bottle tooth decay.”

The American Dental Association (ADA) defines ECC as the presence of one or
more decayed or missing teeth or fillings in a child up to 71 months of age.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ECC can occur when a
child’s teeth come in contact with too much sugar. Sugar facilitates the
growth of bacteria, and bacteria-produced acids can, in turn, cause tooth
decay.

The NIH additionally notes that ECC often can be traced specifically to
liquids that contain sugar, including milk, formula, fruit juices, and soft
drinks. The NIH additionally points out that the potential for ECC increases
if a child sleeps or walks around with a bottle or training cup containing a
sugary liquid, because the sugar coats their teeth for longer periods of time,
causing teeth to decay more quickly.

“What many people don’t realize is that children who don’t receive appropriate
dental care can grow up to become adults with poor dental health,” says Robert
Shechet, D.D.S., director of dental programs for Health Net, Inc.

Shechet explained that – as part of Health Net’s efforts to help reduce the
incidence of ECC and to set youngsters on a lifelong path of good dental
health – the company is working with primary care physicians to educate
parents regarding the importance of:

  * Scheduling a dental visit for children within six months of their first
    tooth appearing, but no later than age 1;
  * Switching from bottles to cups by age 1; and
  * Helping children brush their teeth until age 7 and teaching them the
    importance of oral hygiene and good nutrition.

ECC Takes Significant Toll

ECC is a serious medical issue. In fact, as reported by the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, ECC is the single most common chronic childhood
disease, as it is five times more common than asthma, and seven times more
common than hay fever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), ECC among children younger than 6 years is prevalent,
affecting nearly half of U.S. 5 year olds, despite being highly preventable.
The CDC further notes that ECC is associated with lifelong cavities, because
the process that results in cavities – once established – tends to be stable
and chronic.

The ADA adds that ECC exacts a significant toll on children, affecting their
development, school performance and behavior. And the NIH points out that ECC
often leads to pain and infection necessitating hospitalization for dental
extractions.

Preventing ECC

To prevent tooth decay, the NIH recommends the following actions:

  * Do not fill your child’s bottle with fluids that are high in sugar, such
    as punch or soft drinks;
  * Put your child to bed with a bottle of water only – not juice, milk, or
    other drinks;
  * Give children ages 6 months through 12 months only formula to drink in
    bottles;
  * Remove the bottle or stop nursing when your child has fallen asleep;
  * Avoid letting your child walk around using a bottle of juice or milk as a
    pacifier;
  * Avoid prolonged use of pacifiers, and do not dip pacifiers in honey,
    sugar, or syrup;
  * Work toward eliminating your child’s use of a bottle by age 12 months to
    14 months; and
  * Limit juice to fewer than 6 ounces per day during meals.

In relation to caring for your child's teeth, the NIH shares these tips:

  * After each feeding, gently wipe your child’s teeth and gums with a clean
    washcloth or gauze to remove plaque;
  * Begin tooth brushing as soon as your child has teeth. Brush your teeth
    together, at least at bedtime. If you have an infant or toddler, place a
    small amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste on a washcloth and rub it
    gently on their teeth. You can switch to fluoridated toothpaste when you
    are sure that your child spits out all of the toothpaste after brushing.
    Older children can use a toothbrush with soft, nylon bristles. Use a very
    small amount of toothpaste (no more than the size of a pea);
  * Start flossing children’s teeth when all of the primary (baby) teeth have
    erupted (usually around 36 months); and
  * If your baby is 6 months or older, use fluoridated water or a fluoride
    supplement if you have well water without fluoride. If you use bottled
    water, make sure it contains fluoride.

Medical Advice Disclaimer

The information provided is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute
for professional medical care. Always seek the advice of your physician or
other health provider for any questions you may have regarding your medical
condition and follow your health care provider’s instructions.

About Health Net

Health Net, Inc. is a publicly traded managed care organization that delivers
managed health care services through health plans and government-sponsored
managed care plans. Its mission is to help people be healthy, secure and
comfortable. Health Net provides and administers health benefits to
approximately 5.4 million individuals across the country through group,
individual, Medicare (including the Medicare prescription drug benefit
commonly referred to as “Part D”), Medicaid, Department of Defense, including
TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs. Through its subsidiaries, Health Net
also offers behavioral health, substance abuse and employee assistance
programs, managed health care products related to prescription drugs, managed
health care product coordination for multi-region employers, and
administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits programs.

For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit Health Net’s website at
www.healthnet.com.

This release contains links to other sites that are not owned or controlled by
Health Net. Please be aware that Health Net is not responsible for the
contents linked or referred to from this release. Links to other websites are
provided for the user’s convenience. Health Net does not express an opinion on
the content or the properties of such linked websites and disclaims any
liability in connection therewith.

Contact:

Health Net, Inc.
Lori Rieger, 602-794-1415
lori.rieger@healthnet.com
www.twitter.com/hnlori
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