“Toothpastes are only for placebo effect”

Dr. Abhinav Talekar in a tête-à-tête with Avanika Mote. They talk about toothpastes, fluoride and dental health

Dr. Abhinav Talekar BDS, MDS
Dr. Abhinav Talekar

This afternoon, we caught Dr. Abhinav Talekar, child dental specialist, for a quick 20-minute interview. He was in a rush between patients and appointments. Here’s what we heard from him.

How can we take care of baby teeth without brushing (since they don’t have teeth)?

Dr. Talekar: If your baby is between 0-6 months, a white sterile sponge with water can be used to clean his/her gums. These days there are toothbrushes available for kids between different age groups; Pigeon and MeeMee, to name a few. Also, it is not about which toothbrush or toothpaste to use, but more about correctly brushing the child’s teeth.

Do we really need to take care of milk-teeth?

Dr. Talekar: There should not be any doubt about this. Obviously we should give a lot of attention to a child’s milk-teeth. The child’s last milk-tooth exfoliates at around 14 years. Carrying a decayed tooth for that long can have long-term harmful effects. Healthy baby teeth are important for chewing and eating, so your child can get the nutrition that he or she needs to grow. Teeth are also important for learning to speak properly. Apart from this, a nice smile helps build a child’s self-esteem and social connectivity.

What do you advise for parents who feel scared that their child will not sit for dental procedures?

Dr. Talekar: If adults feel scared about dentistry, how can they expect their child to be fearless on a dental chair? That’s why Pediatric Dentists are there. We work with them like friends, make them comfortable with us on a human note and we always end up getting much better co-operation from children than their parents (smiles).

Since you are a Paediatric Dentist, I want to ask you an interesting question. Is chocolate really bad for your teeth?

Dr. Talekar: (laughs) The blame goes to chocolate. But to be honest, anything that contains sucrose, be it milk cookies or chocolates or chips, if consumed during the night without brushing your teeth afterward, anything can cause plaque. But since chocolate is more popular among kids, it takes the blame! It doesn’t matter what you eat, it matters how long you keep it in your mouth.

What is the most common dental problem in kids you come across in your practice?

Dr. Talekar: Teeth caries are the most common among kids here in Pune and parents lack awareness about this.

What is your take on fluoride in toothpastes?

Dr. Talekar: See, fluoride is always debatable. Yes, it is true that excessive fluoride in water is harmful and may cause fluorosis but use of fluoride for the prevention and control of caries is well-documented to be safe and effective. According to a recent policy passed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, children below two years of age can use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. From two to five years onwards, a pea-sized amount should be used.

Which is your personal favourite toothpaste for kids and adults? 

Dr. Talekar: I knew this question was coming (smiles). I don’t want to come off as someone who is marketing toothpastes. Yet, if I have to answer this question, my personal picks for kids would be: Kidodent, Pigeon and MeeMee. For adults, Colgate Total is a good toothpaste but as I said, it doesn’t matter which toothpaste or toothbrush you use. What matters is the  number of times you brush and more importantly, the way you brush your teeth. Otherwise toothpaste is just for a placebo effect according to me.

On a candid note, which is your favourite holiday destination?

Dr. Talekar: Goa with friends and Karde Beach (Maharashtra) with my better half

(Dr. Abhinav Talekar is a paediatric dentist practicing in Pune since 2009. His clinic is located in Khopkar Heights, Opposite YMCA Club, Quarter Gate Chowk, Camp)

Foodie Moody Blues

Can food affect your mood? The answer is yes. To know what, why and how, read further.

By Avanika Mote

They might tickle your taste buds but damage your mood and body
They might tickle your taste buds but damage your mood and body

Last year I drove into the Aundh outlet of McDonalds and drove out with a McMeal. It had a soda, a burger and a pack of fries. Just one of those days you don’t want to cook. The day was tiring as I didn’t want to write a thing on technology. All I looked forward to was a ready-to-eat meal and an episode of The Big Bang Theory to make me feel like it’s a great evening. Once in a while it’s okay to indulge in atrocious food habits. Especially on a Thursday evening. I peeled the paper cover off the burger, put a straw inside my Coke and squeezed some ketchup for the fries while searching for Z-Cafe on my TataSky. Multi-tasking comes handy when there’s a burger to look forward to. It’s also a prep to eat all things inside one burger in a bite. It isn’t easy with burgers, with the mayo dripping and the remote in your other hand.

While Sheldon Cooper was doing what he does the best – turning lame into a verb that creates LOLs – the whole burger-and-Big Bang concept was not working out for me. My funny bone would not tickle. I was starting to feel irritated, though the Coke tried its best to calm my throat. When the meal was over, I started to feel worse than before. And then I was just a phone call away from two pints of beer. This was the last ray of sheer optimism to make my evening great. And Google calls it the ‘junk food blues’. You need to understand that it could happen to you too. Since information is power, it is good to know what junk does to your psyche. So, here are the top five foods that can give you the blues. Continue reading Foodie Moody Blues

“Life is movement, movement is life”

Dr. Devendra Vartak talks about bones and joints and what we must do to keep them healthy
By Avanika Mote

Dr. Devendra Vartak
Dr. Devendra Vartak

One Wednesday morning, we asked four quick questions to Dr. Devendra Vartak, an acclaimed orthopaedic surgeon from Pune. He agreed to give us 20 minutes of his valuable time meant for his daughter who had a school holiday – a priceless gesture from a man whose time is at a premium. We asked him about his work and how he goes about it, and he spoke about his expertise briefly, which are hip and knee surgery, joint replacement surgery, fixing fractures of the hip and knee, and revision hip and knee surgeries. He also sounded enthusiastic about his newly set up operation theatre at Ameya Clinic in Erandwane.

What was the most difficult case you have come across?

Dr.Vartak: A 20-year old boy from Aurangabad, who was suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, visited me some time ago. Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that affects the spine. He was bed-ridden for three years and his body was immobile. His spinal bones had fused together resulting in a rigid spine. The X-ray reports showed that his hips stood at 90 degrees on account of this condition. After the diagnosis, I decided to operate him. A poly-hip replacement surgery was the only hope. His bones had become so fragile that I had to perform the surgery with a feather touch. We also gave him a shot of a hormone that strengthens bones and today, he is functional. He can move with the help of a walking stick. The great thing is, he does not need a wheelchair and has a relatively normal life.

Any other case you recall that was difficult to deal with?

Dr. Vartak: Another lady, who is 35 years old, was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome, a nervous system disorder that causes weakness in the muscles, loss of reflexes and numbness in the arms and legs. She was on a ventilator as she had breathing issues. Also, she had nerve blocks which had caused ‘foot drop’ – an abnormality caused by the paralysis of muscles of the lower leg. This case was tricky because I didn’t want any artificial fixtures. The only direction I could consider taking was to transfer a tendon to her affected leg muscle through a foot-drop gait surgery. This isn’t something that you get to see everyday and there were some risks involved. However, it worked wonders and my patient has been recovering through various post-surgery physiotherapy sessions.

That is commendable. I cannot imagine anybody going through such muscular conditions. So, how do we take care of our bones and joints without having to take supplements?

Dr.Vartak: Good question. We live sedentary lives these days and hardly make time to exercise. I’ll give you a quick checklist of things to do and not do.

  • Workout.
  • Walk to nearby places, like say the grocery store and so on
  • Take stairs, ditch the elevators.
  • Don’t sit at one spot for long, keep moving. Keep your bones and muscles mobile. Because, life is movement, movement is life.
  • Stretch as much as possible.
  • Monitor your posture, use cushions when the neck is under stress.
  • If you work on a computer, it should be positioned at the eye level and your elbows should be supported. Ergonomics are important.

Thanks, doc. I’m sure most of our readers need these basic tips to protect their bones and joints. On a candid note, what are you doing when you aren’t working?

Dr.Vartak: (smiles) I like to trek and spend time with my family. I like to chat with like-minded people and hang out with friends in my free time.

Dr. Devendra Vartak is an MBBS, MS, DNB. He has been practicing in Pune since 2007. He has a state-of-the-art operating room with laminar flow and in-house physiotherapy department at his clinic in Erandwane.

On World AIDS Day, here’s how the world looks

Image Courtesy: Google Images
Image Courtesy: Google Images

Currently, more than 35 million people across the globe live with HIV/AIDS. Around 3.3 million of them are under the age of 15. In 2012, an estimated 2.3 million people were newly infected with HIV, and 260,000 of them were under the age of 15. Every day about 6,300 people contract HIV— that’s 262 every hour. In 2012, 1.6 million people died of AIDS and 210,000 of them were under the age of 15. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 75 million people have contracted HIV and nearly 36 million have died of HIV-related causes.

Number of people living with HIV/AIDS: 2.39 million

India has a relatively low rate of HIV infection as compared to Africa and the Asia Pacific region. According to the 2012 National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) report, which is a Government of India institution, an estimated 2.39 million people are currently living with HIV/ AIDS in India. Of these, 0.31% people are above the age of 15. HIV epidemics are severe in the south and north-east of India. The highest estimated adult HIV occurrence is found in Manipur at 0.78%, followed by Andhra Pradesh at 0.76%, Karnataka at 0.69% and Nagaland at 0.66%.

In the southern states, HIV is primarily spread through heterosexual contact. Infections in the Northeast are mainly found amongst injecting drug users (IDUs) and sex workers.

Sub-Saharan Africa
Number of people living with HIV/AIDS: 25 million

More than 70% of all people living with HIV, which is estimated to be around 25 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. This includes 88% of the world’s HIV-positive children. In 2012, an estimated 1.6 million people in the region became newly infected. An estimated 1.2 million adults and children have died of AIDS, which accounts for 75 percent of the world’s AIDS deaths in 2012.

The Asia-Pacific
Number of people living with HIV/AIDS: 5 million

In the Asia-Pacific region, as many as 351,000 people were newly infected in 2012, bringing the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the region to nearly 5 million. AIDS claimed approximately 261,000 lives here in 2012.

The Caribbean
Number of people living with HIV/AIDS: 250,000

Approximately 12,000 people were infected in the Caribbean in 2012, bringing the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS there to over 250,000. AIDS claimed an estimated 11,000 lives in 2012.

Central and South America
Number of people living with HIV/AIDS: 1.5 million

There were an estimated 86,000 new HIV/AIDS infections and 52,000 AIDS-related deaths in Central and South America in 2012. This region currently has 1.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS.

North Africa and the Middle East
Number of people living with HIV/AIDS: 260,000

Approximately 260,000 people are living with HIV in this region and an estimated 32,000 people were newly infected in 2012. An estimated 17,000 adults and children have died of the virus here.

Eastern and Western Europe
Number of people living with HIV/AIDS: 1.3 million

In 2012, an estimated 130,000 people were newly infected with HIV, bringing the number of people living with HIV/AIDS to 1.3 million in Europe. HIV/AIDS claimed 91,000 lives in 2012. HIV infections have increased by 13% (that is 100,000 people) since 2006. The majority of people diagnosed with HIV were drug abusers who use intravenous needles and gay men. Less than 1% of the population was HIV positive across the continent.

In Western and Central Europe, there were 29,000 new cases of HIV, bringing the number of people living with HIV here to 860,000 in 2012. An estimated 7,600 people in these regions died of AIDS in 2012. However, Ukraine, Belarus and Spain were found to have the highest HIV rates among needle users, with 21, 17 and 16% respectively. The number of AIDS-related deaths in the region has increased from 36,000 in 2001 to 91,000 people last year. New infections among drug users in Greece have risen because of funding cuts in the treatment centres.

What is PEPFAR?

PEPFAR is the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Tanzania is its key partner. In 2013 alone, PEPFAR’s support programs directly helped more than 990,000 people in Tanzania. Of these, 330,000 were orphans and vulnerable children. The lifesaving anti-retroviral treatment was given to more than 444,000 Tanzanians through PEPFAR. This year alone, PEPFAR has diagnosed and counselled over 5 million Tanzanians, of which, an estimated 1.5 million were pregnant women. With PEPFAR’s combined efforts, Tanzanians are less likely to be infected with HIV and the ones living with HIV are hoping to live full lives.

PEPFAR envisions an AIDS-free generation for the entire world. In 2013, PEPFAR and its partners launched the PMTCT (prevent mother-to-child transmission) program which witnessed the millionth HIV-free baby born to an HIV-positive mother. Through various advances in healthcare and, individual and collective behaviourial changes, PEPFAR has reached a tipping point of the epidemic.

Source: UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic 2013; UNAIDS Fact Sheet 2013 and NACO 

Thank you for making us the best start-up

photo 4
The Savetime booth at PuneConnect 2013

Savetime thanks PuneConnect’s audience for their immense support and love. We are honoured to have become your favourite healthcare destination in Pune. Yesterday, we saw the announcement at puneconnect.com and we were simply thrilled to know that we got the maximum number of votes for the Audience Choice award for the best start-up in Pune.

The event saw more than 1,000 professionals from IT / ITES and other sectors. We were among the top 27 start-up companies which got shortlisted for a demo at PuneConnect – the city’s largest start-up shootout. Our team stood by us to set up the booth and presented us at their best. A team of 15 people represented Savetime at the event. The team wore tee-shirts that read, ‘If an apple a day doesn’t work, visit savetime.com’. As a welcoming gesture, we gave away apples to people at the event.

We would like to thank our team who make us who we are each day. We are proud of our team for its contribution at the event and for interacting with the audience. On asking how he felt about the grand win, Mitesh  Bohra, co-founder, Savetime said, “An award from the audience is a high that every entrepreneur seeks. I am a dreamer and find a surreal thrill in a start-up environment. At Savetime, it’s not only my dream to bring real patient-centric innovation into the world but also contribute to the rapidly developing start-up ecosystem in India. Audience is the best jury out there and to get such love from them is phenomenal. It’s a very humbling experience. I sincerely thank all our supporters. Time to go back to work where we continue to keep doing what we do best and march forward towards realising our collective dreams — becoming the TripAdvisor of the healthcare industry.”

Team Savetime poses for the shutterbug during a break. Note the basket of apples -- every visitor to the booth got one
Team Savetime poses for the shutterbug during a break. Note the basket of apples — every visitor to the booth got one