This pandemic has shown us the true meaning of the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) times. Navigating through different difficult situations with proper care is something that is going to keep the businesses running. Among other healthcare avenues, the dental fraternity is also not exempt from the flames and fumes of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Yet, one of the premier dental care givers in Pune, Sweet Smiles Dental Clinic is leading the way in hygienic oral care with optimum safety to its patients. Let’s find out how Dr. Shilpa Rao – Principal Dentist of the clinic has managed to do that in the following exclusive interview that we had with her:
Kindly brief us about your journey as a dental practitioner and your clinic.
Since my dad was in the medical corps of the army, I, as a child was always surrounded by doctors. I was quite enamored by their super power to heal people. That’s how the entire idea of becoming a doctor got instilled within me!
I was okay with everything about being a doctor except the night shifts. Also, I liked being artistic and there was no way in which I could combine Art and Medicine except dentistry! That’s how I began my journey of getting into one of the most prestigious colleges in India, Government Dental College and Hospital, Mumbai in the year 1997.
Those 5 years of being in that amazing college taught me a lot and made me what I am today! After completing my graduation, I joined Vivekanand Mission Hospital, Lucknow where I used to manage a daily OPD of 70-80 patients. The experience was just outstanding. I dealt with every possible case and it gave me a lot of confidence. The love of the patients I got there is something which I will never forget.
In 2003, Sweet Smiles Dental Clinic and Implant Centre was born. This is how the story begins, A young girl dreams of having a clinic with an aim to create smiles, more smiles every day! Along the way, she crossed paths with so many beautiful patients who gave her a chance to touch their lives and trusted her with the ability to relieve them of pain and more than anything else became a part of her ever so growing family. From 1 person when we started our family now is more than 10000 members big.
Wow, could, we have asked for more?
Please give an overview of the services you offer.
We specialize in smile makeovers, aesthetic fillings, root canal treatments, minor surgeries, gum treatment, implants, bleaching, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, and general well-being of teeth and gums!
Our core team comprises of me, Dr Shilpa Rao, who is the Principal Dentist, and specializes mostly in root canal treatments and aesthetic dentistry. Dr Vinita Sharma, who is the Associate Dentist, has 10+ years of experience and is just wonderful with kids and also takes care of your gum problems. Pooja is the Senior Dental Assistant cum Manager. She takes care of the patient management and makes sure that all the sterilization protocols are followed to the teeth. She makes sure that the coordination between the visiting consultants and the patients is as smooth as possible. Rutika and Deepa are Junior Dental Assistants. They work as the chair side assistants and make work easier for us as dentists and also make patients feel comfortable.
What is your opinion on the adoption of novel technologies in dental science?
For decades, going to the dentist was considered an undesirable experience. It involved sitting under a bright light and having your mouth invaded with a variety of tools. Even though dental health is very important to your overall health and for having a nice smile, among other benefits, many people chose to steer clear of dental visits because of how uncomfortable it was for them.
Fortunately, new technological advancements are making trips to the dentist quicker, easier, less painful and more reliable. Due to these advancements, the dental industry is growing rapidly and looking much different than it did in past years. A greater emphasis on treatment and prevention will mean fewer caries (cavities) in patients and less risk of periodontal disease. Similar to innovation within other health care professions, these new technologies will have a huge impact on how dental professionals treat their patients and how people take care of their oral health at home.
If you’re wondering what dental technologies, you’ll find in dentist offices in the coming year, check out these five innovations:
Cavity detection through lasers
Normally, your hygienist pokes around your mouth with an exploration tool to search for cavities. While this has been a regular element of check-ups for a century or more, lasers can now do the job.
While digital x-rays are not too new to the dental industry, they’ve become the preferred choice from radiography-based x-rays. The benefits to clinicians are that the radiation levels are 90 percent lower with the new technology and x-rays can arrive on screens in a second making the whole review process more efficient.
Shorter visits with Computer Aided Design (CAD) Technology
Using CAD technology, your tooth will be photographed and then prepared for a crown. The machine can create the crown in the office without all of the complicated work of hand molding and sculpting.
Veneers are moldings that cover the front part of a crooked or unattractive tooth. Before this technology advanced, they were very thick to be able to withstand wear and tear. However, advancements in technology allows for the creation of thinner veneers. Teeth will remain just as well protected while keeping the original tooth intact.
Fillings and Bond Material
Bonding and filling materials are to be made of high-quality, medical-grade, industrial-strength adhesives and fillers. With technological improvements, your tooth color can be easily matched, making the repaired tooth fit with the rest of your teeth as well as the plastic resin used today lasts longer than previously used materials and comes in a wide range of shades.
Share with our readers the measures that have to be taken to maintain good oral hygiene. How would you suggest we should spread awareness for the same?
Taking care of your teeth is really simple. The three steps to good oral hygiene are Brushing, Rinsing and Flossing! A proper two-minute brushing twice a day and flossing at least at night will take your maintenance of oral hygiene a long way. Rinsing after every meal is something that is often forgotten. Also, what you eat also makes a lot of difference in how your teeth are going to treat you. Anything that is extremely sticky or acidic is going to damage your teeth for sure. Eat good fibrous food which stimulates saliva secretion, hence developing a self-cleansing mechanism in the mouth!
Primarily, children at school need to be educated about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. Besides children, parents to be should also be taught in pre-natal counselling about how to maintain your toddler’s oral hygiene.
What is your opinion on the shortage of healthcare facilities and workers to cater to the growing number of coronavirus cases?
The shortage of healthcare workers during this pandemic is bound to happen as our doctor to patient ratio is really poor. Also, the doctors are not paid as well as their counterparts in the western countries. The doctors have to be treated well, only then things will improve!
With the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, now it is an individual responsibility to take care of ourselves and stay as safe as we can. Use of mask and hand washing is something that is the most important now. People should also not venture out without a reason. Just because everything has opened up, doesn’t mean that corona is gone. We have to be extremely careful about every little thing. Social distancing must be strictly followed. But, keep in mind that you should just be physically. Don’t isolate yourself mentally, just stay connected with your family and friends virtually as much as possible.
What difficulties has the pandemic brought about for your clinic and the dental industry in general? How are you equipping yourself/your clinic to manage the same?
This pandemic has been difficult for everyone and we are no exceptions. Initially, things were very bad since there were no clear guidelines. Patients were equally scared of coming to the clinic to get any work done. So work was limited to emergencies.
But now with the guidelines coming up, we, as in the dental fraternity, are completely geared up to handle patients safely.
At our clinic, we keep a gap of 40 minutes in between patients so that fumigation and total disinfection can be done. Also, a tele-consulting is done as a first step in order to screen the patient for any medical or travel history.
We have installed UV lights and our clinic is extremely well ventilated so that the fresh air circulation is happening well. Also, we have installed Hepa filters in our air conditioners for extra precautions.
So, all in all, the clinic is extremely safe and we take absolute care of our patient’s safety!
What have you planned for yourself/your clinic (in terms of expansion or new equipment) in the coming years?
As for my plans for my clinic in near future, I am planning to get into Digital Smile Designing so that I can show my patients how their smile can change and how they will look even before we touch their teeth!
The other thing that I look forward to is a microscope. I love magnification and the thought of looking those tiny little teeth under magnification sure does excite me and my team.