They say a set of great teeth adds to the first impression you make, because it is all about a smile. And we know how a lousy set of ‘pearly whites’ can reduce the wattage of a smile. Which is why it is important that you take care of them meticulously.
There are a few things you need to know about whitening teeth and why it is different from cleaning them. It is common for most people’s teeth to get yellowish or dirty due to various kinds of deposits over time. What you need in such a case is a procedure called scaling (which must be performed by a qualified dentist), and you should not do it more than once a year or your pearly whites may lose their strong foundation. Scaling and whitening treatments are not mutually inclusive.
Dr. Abhinav Talekar in a tête-à-tête with Avanika Mote. They talk abouttoothpastes, fluoride and dental health
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)