More than half of Minnesota third-graders have filled or untreated cavities, according to the first data released under the state's new oral health screening program.

The cavity rate (55 percent) among screened children was higher than the national rate of 52 percent and the national 2010 goal of 42 percent. The news wasn't all bad: Minnesota third-graders did have higher rates of dental sealants and lower rates of untreated tooth decay than the rest of the nation.

-- Untreated tooth decay: Minnesota (18%), national average (29%), 2010 target (21%)

-- Dental sealants: Minnesota (64%), national average (23%), 2010 target (50%)

State dental leaders are using the screening data to create a new oral health strategy for children. The data is based on oral screenings of 1,766 third-graders at 40 randomly selected public schools in Minnesota last year.

My question to you: What strategies do you use to keep your kids brushing and flossing? We all know what we (and our kids) are supposed to do to keep our teeth healthy. But how do you translate the practical advice from the dentist into real practice at home?

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