BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Good habits start early, which is the goal behind a bill that the Maine Legislature is looking at that will put toothbrushes in the hands of kids outside of the home.
The bill, LD 507, would require licensed child care providers to help children brush their teeth if they are at the day care for more than four hours or after they eat a meal. An adult corralling several pre-schoolers into doing something their parents probably have a hard time doing one-on-one. Only 47% of kids brush their teeth twice a day according to the Maine Dental Association.
Director of the Parkside Children's Learning Center in Bangor, Jen Montgomery-Rice, has around 130 children in her care each week. She plans on brushing teeth at her center regardless of whether the bill passes or not.
"Anything that you can make into a routine for a child is usually successful as they become older and adults," said Rice.
Daycare providers would be required to provide tooth brushes for each child, individually labeled and stored in a safe and sanitary manner.
Pediatric Dentist Dr. Jonathan Shenkin first proposed the bill 3 years ago. He sees several children a week who come to him with dental issues that could have been avoided with better brushing habits.
"The most common comments from parents that come to see us with children with disease is that their not brushing their teeth twice a day," said Shenkin.
Around 20,000 kids between the ages of 3 and 5 years old will have an opportunity to have their teeth brushed an extra time during the day if the bill passes. It went to a hearing in the legislature last week with no opposition. It's expected that the bill will be voted on within the next 3 weeks.