Dr Martha Sakashita from Brazil loves to show the wonderful world of dentistry to children. She believes that although each child is different, they can all become collaborating patients. For a good relationship and care, the professional should use common sense and adapt to each patient. According to Dr Sakashita, all it takes is patience and the right approach.
What is your dental philosophy and core values of your daily practice?
The dental philosophy that I follow and try to pass on to my patients and students is based on preventive dentistry. When we focus on prevention and a daily care routine, we can get the satisfaction of seeing a child gradually learn to take control of their oral health and realise its importance.
My fundamental values are based on my passion for paediatric dentistry, respect for the infant patient and eagerness to show the wonderful world of dentistry to the child.
What does high-quality patient care mean to you?
Certainly, the patient-doctor relationship is very important for the quality of child dental care. The dental professional should have scientific technical qualifications as well as knowledge about mental development of children.
For this, it is important to use different techniques and apply multiple approaches to the child patient, which vary according to their age group and the child’s mental state. For a good relationship and care, the professional should use common sense and adapt to each patient.
Professionals often find it very difficult to take care of children because of all the crying, screaming and kicking. This makes care more laborious, however, these manifestations must be respected, because they externally represent what the child is feeling in the moment.
“The dental professional should have scientific technical qualifications as well as knowledge about mental development of children.”
What is the best advice that you have received from your colleagues or teachers?
I received the best advice from my teacher Prof Maria Salete Nahas Correa. She always told me: “Martha, each child is unique and all children are different, with various temperaments, emotions and personalities. With the right approach, all children can become collaborating patients.”
Welcome to the Billion Healthy Mouths Club
Proper routines in prevention are the future of dentistry – that’s why we at Curaden launched the Billion Healthy Mouths Club – a community of dental professionals committed to the idea of having proper routines in prevention and a holistic approach to dentistry. Dr Martha Sakashita is one of those dental professionals who shares these values, and we proudly present her experience and thoughts with other like-minded people from the field. Keep reading our Gently magazine to discover more interviews with forward-thinking professionals from around the world.
How do you motivate patients to keep good post-treatment care?
The post-treatment motivation in paediatric dentistry is one of the most important issues, because we need the interaction and cooperation of all family members. We need fathers and mothers to help the young patients daily.
I always try to use playful materials appropriate to the child’s age, underlining the importance of returning every four months to check the quality of oral care. Some parents tell me they have difficulty saying no to their children. Others cannot handle the stress generated by the removal of the bottle and give in to the child’s demands, although they know that it is harmful.
The family stress level is an aspect that needs to be taken seriously and understood clearly, in order to plan and identify changes in children’s oral health.
“The post-treatment motivation in paediatric dentistry is one of the most important issues, because we need the interaction and cooperation of all family members.”
How do you educate yourself?
Every six months I try to complete an iTOP course, as it is essential to keep learning and stay up-to-speed with new trends. I attend congresses focusing on my specialty, the last one I attended was the 28th Brazilian Congress of Paediatric Dentistry in São Paulo. In addition, I stay in touch with colleagues and teachers working in the same area.
What change do you wish to see in your field during next five years?
Without a doubt, I believe that dentistry is always evolving, especially paediatric dentistry. In this sense, oral prevention is now a top concern of parents who bring their children for consultation.
Sadly, in Brazil, many children under the age of six do not have access to specialised care, including paediatric dentistry. I hope that in the future, all children can at least go to a consultation with a paediatric dentist.
I always say that paediatric dentistry is considered the future of the smile, because the more care that is given to the child’s oral health, the more chances they have to become adults with beautiful and healthy smiles.
“Sadly, in Brazil, many children under the age of 6 do not have access to paediatric dentistry. I hope that in the future, all children can at least go to a consultation with a paediatric dentist.”
What is a common stereotype of dentistry you dislike?
In the past, it was commonly said that deciduous teeth do not require care because they would fall out, giving way to new permanent teeth, which are the ones that should be taken care of and treated. This view completely ignored the teeth of the little ones and how much they suffer from the cavities and abscesses in the gums. But today, in 2022, we often explain the importance of deciduous teeth and eventually some parents opt for extraction.
The visit to the paediatric dentist and the care of deciduous teeth should start from an early age to avoid pain and other health problems. I always try to make parents aware of the importance of keeping deciduous teeth in the arch, and that they deserve as much care as the permanent teeth.
What is the advice that most of your patients hear from you?
The way you brush your teeth is extremely important. In fact, brushing incorrectly is almost as bad as not brushing.
“I always try to make parents aware of the importance of keeping deciduous teeth in the arch, and that they deserve as much care as the permanent teeth.”
What is the most underestimated oral care routine from your point of view? How do you try to stress its importance?
Certainly, it is to clean the interdental spaces. The failure to use the interdental brushes, and if needed, also floss, on a daily basis as a part of proper oral hygiene, is a big issue when it comes to long-lasting oral health.
However, due to lack of motor coordination, children under eight years of age should not be expected to be able to floss or use interdental brushes correctly. They still need help from an adult.
I always try to emphasise that conscious brushing combined with appropriate tools is very important in oral health care. Oral hygiene should be a ritual and an essential part of daily personal care, because without the routine of using interdental brushes and flossing, we will not achieve effectiveness.
Which skill and character feature are absolute must-haves in your job as a paediatric dentist?
Having patience is indispensable. Paediatric dentists should perform treatment in a quiet, safe and comfortable way for both the parents and the child.
As this is an area that keeps evolving, we need to continuously learn new techniques, especially those that enable “quick treatment” and make the child as comfortable as possible. Adopting a firm but affectionate posture is essential so that the service can flow in a quiet, instructive and pleasant way. But the most important thing is to have affinity with the area and children.
“Paediatric dentists should perform treatment in a quiet, safe and comfortable way for both the parents and the child.”
What does your oral hygiene routine look like?
My routine is based on simplicity and many people do the same every day: brushing my teeth, cleaning the spaces between my teeth, and scheduling my regular check-ups in advance. I realise that consistency and conformity are the key to good oral hygiene.
Dr Martha Suemi Sakashita from Brazil is an expert in paediatric dental care. She graduated from the State University of São Paulo Júlio de Mesquita Filho and worked as a dentistry professor at Universidade Brasil. In her practice, Dr Sakashita focuses on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and dental support to special and infant patients. Apart from her practice in a dental clinic in the city of Votuporanga, São Paulo, she is also a scientific consultant making presentations and trainings on the iTOP philosophy. For more information, follow Dr Sakashita’s instagram account.