By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
By the time your baby hits the 12-month mark, he or she would have reached a number of developmental milestones like saying “mama” or “dada”, crawling on their belly, and growing their first set of teeth. It is recommended by local dental professionals that during this first year parents should set up an appointment with a paediatric dentist.
Dr Kristen Darville at the My First Dentist clinic told Tribune Health this is a national recommendation that will help parents make the right choices to ensure their child’s teeth grow healthy.
Parents were educated on their child’s first trip to the dentist during a health fair on Saturday presented by My First Dental Paediatric Dentistry on Village Road.
During the fair, which was hosted to raise awareness of February being Children’s Dental Health Month, kids were given free teeth screenings and a special goodie bag with fruit, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Meanwhile, parents were taught how to take care of their child’s teeth to prevent a wide array of issues down the line.
“Having your baby’s teeth examined by the first birthday is is not my recommendation, it is a national recommendation here in the US and Canada,” said Dr Darville.
“When they are brought in during that time we educate parents on what to do because some of them don’t know when to wane their child off the bottle; they don’t know what kind of snacks to give them. They also don’t think about how much sugar is in juice, how often they should be brushing, what kind of toothpaste to use. Just as you would take a child to a paediatrician, you should take your child to see a paediatric dentist.”
In her practice, Dr Darville said she sees parents struggle with the right kind of snacks to give their children that will promote healthy teeth and gum development.
“No sugary drinks or sports drinks. People also give their kids a lot PediaSure, but that has a lot of sugar in it. They also give their children fruit snacks which is still candy,” she said.
“We really try to push healthy snacks and encourage parents to make their kids snacks and not buy them so much processed foods even though it is easier,” Dr Darville said.
Healthy snacks include peanut butter, cheese, deli meat, tuna fish, cut-up fruit, granola bars, yoghurt, fresh fruit bars or smoothies.
“All of those things are a lot better. If you want to give your child things like cookies, then try low sugar cookies like graham crackers,” she said.
Dr Darville said sometimes children are brought to the dentist when they are a bit older than one year. But any time is a good time to get your child’s dental health on the right track, she said.
“We are just trying to get Bahamians aware of how important it is to start taking care of their kids’ teeth. Sometimes kids have dental pain and it is ignored because people say its just ‘baby teeth; they are going to fall out’, and they just don’t really take the time to care for their baby’s teeth until there is a problem. At that point there is a plethora of issues.”
Throughout the month, Dr Darville and her team will be visiting various schools and hosting other events to continue educating parents and children.