By DR SPARKMAN FERGUSON
Registrar of the Bahamas Dental Council
As the year 2016 comes to a close it is my hope that our country and its people make plans for a healthy 2017.
“The health of a nation is still the wealth of a nation”. I like the Stronger Bahamas campaign. The slogan itself suggests that wherever we are now, we are seeking to be in a better, and more optimum place. That has a strong appeal in my opinion.
Notwithstanding all the areas where our country needs to become stronger, there is plenty room in the area of personal health. Emphasis on personal health will produce citizens that are physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit. The net result will then indeed be a stronger Bahamas with healthier citizens.
In the area of personal health, dental health is a very weak link in our chain. This is so in part because many of our citizens approach their personal dental health from a position of pain. In other words, only the presence of pain dictates the need to seek professional care.
What will change (dentally speaking) in a stronger Bahamas?
The greatest change witnessed will be a complete shift in the mindset of people. Parents and guardians will be more interested in, and better informed of how to look after the dental health of their children.
What will dental health in a stronger Bahamas look like?
Parents will accept and believe that feedings with baby bottles should be discontinued by the age of 15 months.
Parents will discontinue the practice of filling baby bottles with sugary drinks and cereals.
Parents will be very food conscious when choosing meals for their children. They will do away with sugary breakfast cereals, high fructose corn syrup products, and low nutrition-high glycaemic foods.
Parents will give their children calcium rich diets to ensure development of strong teeth and strong bones.
Parents will take their children for dental checkups every six months starting on the child’s 3rd birthday. Parents will also follow professional dental advice for maintaining the health of children.
Schools will have an interactive health class, where dental health will be taught like literature or geography. Teeth brushing will also be a mandatory exercise for all students after lunchtime.
How will adults behave (dentally speaking) in a stronger Bahamas?
Adults will have professional dental checks every six months including dental prophylaxis and dental imaging.
Adults will follow professional dental advice for health maintenance.
The food of adults will be highly nutritious with a low glycaemic index.
Adults will reject high fructose corn syrup in food and drinks.
What does all of this mean?
In a stronger Bahamas, people will understand that dental health begins early in life and is to be maintained throughout. We will accept that our dental health will not occur by accident, but only through our personal understanding and effort.
Our understanding of diet (food and drink regularly consumed) and how it impacts the health of our teeth and gums will be utmost in our minds. This will cause us to make better food choices.
With this new understanding, we will then seek professional care not because we are in pain, but because we understand it to be the correct path to health.
Conclusion: As futuristic as this article is presented, it is really not intended to be. This is really the current mindset of modern dentistry and is already practiced in advanced countries.
We will ultimately experience a stronger (dental) Bahamas. We do have to begin by making wholesale mind changes, and then begin to put the acquired knowledge into regular practice.