April 2013  

Harris County Boards and Commissions Want You
Community-Minded Volunteers Can Make Harris County a Better Place

It probably shouldn’t come as any surprise that it takes more than the five individual members of Commissioners Court and other elected officials to run the nation’s third-largest county. In fact, a very important part of the job of county judge or county commissioner comes in finding and selecting the right people to help.

All unpaid, these appointed positions to the authorities, commissions and boards operating throughout Harris County can be professionally and personally rewarding. Appointees often vote on multimillion-dollar contracts, enjoy considerable public and professional attention and can have a considerable positive impact on their community.

The past year has been witness to public allegations of wrongdoing or mismanagement on several of these appointed boards. As a result, numerous members of those boards were replaced. But in a county of more than 4 million residents, the talent pool should be deep.

The county always has openings for community-minded volunteers who have the time, energy, education and experience to devote to making Harris County a better place. All of us owe a debt to those who have given of their time and talent, but it is important to seek new volunteers.

The county can always use a combination of new blood and experience on these boards and commissions, and residents of Harris County are encouraged to apply. History buffs, retired engineers, stay-at-home parents and all others can offer a unique perspective. So give it some thought, research what positions are available and contact County Judge Ed Emmett or your county commissioner. (Precinct One Commissioner El Franco Lee, Precinct Two Commissioner Jack Morman, Precinct Three Commissioner Steve Radack, or Precinct Four Commissioner Jack Cagle).

Brush Up On Oral Health

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting children, and Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services is encouraging parents to start protecting their children’s teeth at an early age.

More than half of American children have had at least one cavity by age 5 and by 17 years old, on average, they have eight cavities. Forming good habits at a young age can help your child have healthy teeth for life.

Oral health is such an important part of a child’s overall good health, and yet it is often overlooked in young children. Baby teeth are not “throw away” teeth, but are important for speech, nutrition, maintaining space for permanent teeth and can become infected if not taken care of. Good oral health habits should begin with an introductory dental visit as early as 6 months old and no later than a child’s first birthday.

Start Cleaning Teeth Early

From the time your child is born, there are things you can do to ensure good oral health for your child. Begin cleaning their gums by wiping with a clean, damp cloth every day. As soon as the first tooth appears, continue cleaning their gums and immediately start brushing each tooth with a small, soft child’s toothbrush. Begin using toothpaste with fluoride when the child is 2 years old unless your dentist or doctor recommends it earlier.

Use the Right Amount of Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride is very important in fighting cavities, however, if children swallow too much fluoride, their permanent teeth may develop white spots. Avoid this by using only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and rinse well after brushing. Do not let a child younger than 6 years old use a fluoride mouth rinse unless his dentist or doctor recommends it.

Supervise Brushing

Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day until your child has the skill to handle the toothbrush alone. Get a special fun step stool so the child can see in the bathroom mirror. Closely watch to make sure the child is doing a thorough job, brushing at least two or three minutes. Use a fun timer or play a favorite song to monitor the time. Remember to use a new toothbrush every three months or after being sick. Some toothbrushes come with bristles that change color when it’s time to change them. Make brushing fun and let your child help choose their toothbrush.

Don’t Forget to Floss

Flossing is very important in keeping teeth healthy. It gets rid of food particles that are hidden between teeth and around the gum line. Start flossing your child's teeth once a day as soon as two teeth emerge that touch. At least once a day, gently slip a 12-18 inch string of floss between the teeth. Curve the floss into a “C” shape against the side of the tooth and rub gently up and down. Repeat this motion around each tooth. Don’t forget to floss behind the back teeth. The use of floss sticks or picks instead of regular string floss may be easier for both you and your child.

Schedule Regular Dental Check-ups

Children should have a dental check-up once every six months. Your dentist will check for cavities and discuss oral health care basics. For instance, if you live in an area where fluoride is not added to the water, they may prescribe fluoride to strengthen your child's teeth. It’s okay if your child sucks their thumb, but you should talk with your dentist if it continues after they are 4 years old.

It is important to choose a dentist carefully. You may want to find a pediatric dentist who is an expert on working with children. Consult your dentist for ways to make your child’s dental visit a positive experience.

Nutrition and Your Child’s Teeth

What your child eats affects his or her teeth. Too many carbohydrates, sugar (such as cake, cookies, candy, milk, and other sugary foods and beverages), and starches (such as pretzels and potato chips) can cause tooth decay. Encourage children to eat regular nutritious meals and avoid frequent between-meal snacking and sugary drinks. Offer your child plain water instead of juice or soda. Water does not harm the teeth and aids in washing away any food particles that may be clinging to teeth. 

Never put your baby to bed with a bottle filled with milk, formula, juice, or soda. Fill the bottle with plain water. Also, adding flavoring to medication is a common practice to make the medicine easier to take. But just like other sugary liquid which is left on the teeth and gums after drinking, early childhood cavities can result.

Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services (HCPHES) Dental Health and Prevention provides quality dental services to indigent children age 6 months to 20 years.  Services include diagnostic, preventive, restorative and surgical procedures, as well as education about dental disease prevention.  Dental appointments can be scheduled by calling the HCPHES Patient Appointment Call Center, Monday-Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm at 713.212.6800.  Visit the website at www.hcphes.org and Like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HarrisCountyPublicHealth