The Alimond Show

Rishita Jaju of Smile Wonders Pediatric Dentistry

February 15, 2024 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Rishita Jaju of Smile Wonders Pediatric Dentistry
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered what the world of pediatric dentistry entails? Strap yourselves in as we take you on a whirlwind tour, complete with a special guest who wears many hats - a mom, dentist, business owner, and soon, a TED Talk speaker. She'll be sharing her unique journey and her mission to change the landscape of pediatric dentistry. We'll delve into her practice that's steeped in growth and education, catering particularly to moms and special needs patients. And if you've ever wondered about the birth of a business, she'll walk us through how the necessity for a different approach to pediatric dentistry led her to set up her own practice.

Shift your attention now to the fascinating world of pediatric laser dentistry. Our expert guest is all set to illuminate us on how she provides comprehensive care for patients as young as two weeks, special needs patients, and toddlers. You'll get a lowdown on how laser dentistry offers a less invasive and more comfortable experience for children in need of fillings. And for all the parents out there, you surely want to hear about how she creates a non-threatening environment that puts young patients at ease. 

And now, for the final act - we're shining a spotlight on the issue of lip and tongue ties in infants and children. We've roped in Dr. Rashida Jhaju who brings a wealth of personal experiences and expert knowledge to the table as she discusses how these ties can affect feeding, speech, and sleep. She'll hammer home the importance of early detection and treatment and the vital need for increased awareness among doctors and families. But that's not all - we'll also touch on the often overlooked issue of feeding difficulties in infants, and how weight gain is not the only symptom. As we wrap up, our guest reveals her love for travel and shares her inspiring message to liberate mothers from guilt and empower them to make a positive impact on their baby's life. You don't want to miss this!

Speaker 1:

How's the practice?

Speaker 2:

Very good Practices going well, awesome. Right now, what is taking up most of my time is on the 16th, I'm doing a TED Talk.

Speaker 1:

Oh really.

Speaker 2:

Oh, my goodness. And as like you know how they say, like if you think about it and like say it, then you know it's going to be a fruition. I last year I had met a friend and I was like, oh, you know, it would be cool to do that and I'd mentioned it and then got nominated, yeah, and when I heard that I was going to do it, I was like, oh my gosh, excited, nervous, but now definitely nervous.

Speaker 1:

Okay, now that it's like.

Speaker 2:

Because it's two weeks away. Two weeks away, yeah. So congratulations, that's exciting Thank you. It is in Wilmington, Delaware.

Speaker 1:

Oh, okay.

Speaker 2:

There's like a health and wellness salon there.

Speaker 1:

So you have some distance to get nervous on the way over there, yeah.

Speaker 2:

I think I'm going to go a night before, yeah, and then it's on the next evening, okay. So hopefully it'll work out. Yeah, I think I have time to breathe, but yeah, so like people ask me about practice, but my this year's like goal has been to like develop the teaching, the like the impact, community impact, or like the professional impact.

Speaker 1:

Tell me a little about that. What do you mean?

Speaker 2:

So I felt like, you know, we I had my baby, then COVID, and then people were just like in like that survival kind of mode, and I was in the same way like balancing being a mom, being a dentist, being a business owner, and I kind of just felt like I was in such a I don't know like a bubble where I was just protecting my feelings, protecting people's feelings, protecting my patients, protecting you know. But I feel like this year I was like I can do all that, but I should also work on growth and not just in like the hunker down and let's survive type mode. And one of the things that I used to do quite a bit and I know we met first because of it is I used to do a lot of like teaching, lectures at children's hospital, in the community and everything, and I kind of felt like I had gotten away from it in the past few years. So 2023, I was like 2023, stress free and growth. And so I said you know I'm going to go back to teaching. I'm going to actually very much. It makes me you say teaching or like teaching.

Speaker 2:

I know, and I think that there are a few things that sometimes that come off like so naturally, even like people who are like meeting me after such a long time and they're like that's what you want to talk about. I thought you're talking about your business, right, but I feel like that is so intertwined, like I feel like my business was. The reason I had to open my business, I feel, is because I felt like what I was offering there was not a space for it in other practices and I had worked in other practices before but I was catering to moms and special needs patients and newborns and stuff and that just doesn't fit in the like a traditional dental thought process, right. So people don't expect that they'll go to a pediatric practice and they'll actually see babies like before teeth come in. Or cleaning in fluoride is not our practice philosophy. It's more about like education, experience and all that. So I kind of felt like I had to open my business for that. But then the other part was education of parents and experience.

Speaker 1:

Explain to the audience that's listening right now what is it exactly that you do? Because I know.

Speaker 2:

I am a pediatric laser dentist so I've provided like specialized care. It's, you know, more than just cleanings and fillings and things. It's about overall help, like comprehensive care, and we take care of babies as young as two weeks old Baby set has no teeth no teeth and who are having feeding difficulties Okay, and I take care of. I then evaluate mouth function. We evaluate whether they have good sex swallow, breathe technique. Are they able to feed well, whether it's on mom or baby? So that's like out of the three major things that our practice like specializes in, that's like a one big chunk. The other thing that we do in our practice is a care for special needs patients. So some of these patients, and especially in like COVID, it became very, very apparent how our community is kind of lacking in those resources to give help to patients that might need that additional help.

Speaker 2:

Not just every six months. Go get a cleaning done, get your little token and come home. It's those kids that actually parents have a hard time getting inside the mouth. Those kids need a little bit more help getting to the dental chair at least once a week. I have done some cleanings right on the floor. Yeah, we're in the play area. You keep them where they're at? Yes, exactly, and that's not possible in like a traditional practice. Easily, you know, yeah. And then the third is the toddlers, the babies that have teeth. But they're just like pre-cooperative, like they're just not ready to just go and come. They need a little extra time, they need extra toys and, like familiarity, they need to feel like they came to a familiar, non-threatening place. So, younger kids, special needs patients and moms, when babies I think adults need that too, by the way, you are right.

Speaker 2:

You are right. And so many times parents say do you see babies or you see adults also? And I'm like I see only real children. Yeah, not all of us who want to be children all our lives right.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, and you said laser dentistry. What is laser dentistry like? Consist?

Speaker 2:

of Consist. Okay, so laser dentistry is like is the type of dentistry that does not focus on using the handpiece, the drill that we think about. It's a technology. I think it is, at this point, 25, 30 years old. It's started out with other industries.

Speaker 2:

You know, everybody thinks about Lasik. It's similar, but it's dental wavelength that works on teeth and soft tissue of the mouth. So that way when kids have cavities, they don't have to get that. You know, the dreaded shot, the dreaded shot, the dreaded drill.

Speaker 2:

So when a child, you know, has a filling, that has a cavity that needs a filling, the biggest first question is how are they going to, you know, tolerate that? And when I can look at a child and say it's not going to be a shot, yeah, right there, yes, right there. I see the difference in there, like, okay, I can handle this. So that's the biggest thing. The fact that it allows me to take care of soft and hard tissues is another thing, because, you know, sometimes we think of anything that is outside of teeth. You need to go to the hospital or the surgeon or you know, like an ENT or something. However, it's inside the mouth. So the dentist have the most training and education about, like the function of the mouth. So being able to offer that in a familiar place to my patients non-threatening not in a hospital has been.

Speaker 1:

What are some of those popular things that you treat? Oh, lip and tongue tie.

Speaker 2:

You know, it's the connection between the upper lip to the upper jaw or the tongue to the floor of the mouth. The connection is called a frenulum and when that frenulum is too tight or too thick or too strong, restrictive, you can't use your mouth and your tongue really well. And what happens is the impact of it can start as early as infancy. So difficulty with feeding, breastfeeding, bottle feeding as they grow older. Difficulty with, you know, textured foods, chicken nuggets are okay, grilled chicken is harder those type of kids, you know. And then, as that tightness or restriction continues, there's clarity of speech concerns. Those kids can have more cavities. And, most importantly, in the last 10 years we have found out that not being able to have a good posture in your mouth can lead to sleep disturbances. And so bedwetting, night waking, mouth breathing, snoring, all of these things. It's crazy. It's all connected together, right, it's all connected, and so having the ability to help it early on has been such a fulfilling part.

Speaker 1:

And why did you even? Why did you?

Speaker 2:

even get into it.

Speaker 1:

This specific.

Speaker 2:

I know you touched on a little bit, but yeah, and I don't talk about this often enough, but you know I used I was a dentist and then I specialized in pediatrics and then I was introduced to lasers as a modality of doing treatment and I used to provide the care. Being a type A personality, you always want to make sure, so you go to school and you go to the specialty, but then you're like I, that technology and I might be dating myself was newer when I first started practicing, right? So I did all of those that education and I would provide care. But when it really hit home was when I had my baby and he was having feeding difficulties and as a doctor, you felt like I should know how to do this better. Right, am I doing this right?

Speaker 2:

And he had like the hardest time. I mean, he lost more closer 10% of his birth weight. He had to be observed, even at like two week checkup. He did not meet his birth weight again and that became a problem. And then the lactation consultant was the first one that kind of reminded me. Don't you, are you Dr Rashida Jhaju? Don't we send these babies to you?

Speaker 2:

You're like maybe, and you know honestly, I was like so vulnerable, like so postpartum, so like hesitant, right, it was the first time mom, late bloomer, all types of external and internal judgment, right, and I was like don't call me doctor, I don't know anything, just tell me and tell me what I need to do. And she was just like these are the babies we send to you. Do you think he has a lip or tongue tie? I had like my heart dropped, but I was feeling like such a and I go, I take him to my office and I almost I kind of had to like wear my gloves and wear my jacket, take a pistol yeah.

Speaker 2:

Kind of feel like I'm doing a professional evaluation. And he had all the signs of lip and tongue tie and I'm like I've been practicing on everybody else and I was so busy being like this mom that was failing at being a mom or failing at feeding my baby. No one had even checked inside his mouth. I took a look and we found out that there were all the signs of a lip and tongue tie for him, right. And then I take care of him and I work closely with the lactation consultant and within like a week or so he's doing better Every time. Before anytime that would happen everybody would be like but he looks okay and you know he just doesn't like feeding on you.

Speaker 1:

Thanks, sally, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And it would like be like a stab in my heart right, like I'm like I'm trying so hard here and the whole like it's like the feeling of rejection, right, and of course it was more emotional at that point and like now when I'm talking about it and kind of like I relived that a little bit Sorry, ptsd, no, I know but when he started doing better. And like now as I'm like coming out of that like fog, that is my biggest mission because I'm like I was a mom that kind of had the resources. I kind of knew about it, but because it wasn't something that the doctors said, like the day that they said we need to take him away for observation, like but why, right, nobody said that? So now I feel like it's, if I'm going to make an impact in the community, it's going to be. Let's bring this up. Like let's make it so that doctors have the science, the families have the science that talk about.

Speaker 2:

Okay, one in 20 babies has this. Okay, it's one of the more minor things that we can do compared to all the other things that newborns can have. So I understand like doctors have a lot to kind of worry about in newborn care, but if there is a mom that is having a hard time with feeding her baby, instead of going in like the consoling part of being a doctor, we need to go in a little bit more of an investigative part, right? Give that mom some timeline, give her some resources to look into why is this hard or is this truly going to be transient? You know, give her the right thing. Just don't be like, oh it happens. You know, don't make it so that like breastfeeding pain, slow weight gain, crying baby. You know, when a baby feeds, feeding it should be good, right, like it should feel good, and that's what I was told. But when it's not, you're almost like what's wrong here? Like am I doing something right versus really figuring out? Is there something wrong?

Speaker 1:

Because you know, like as a new time, not even first time mom, but just as a mom period for the first time for this baby, right, right, every time is a new baby. You feel like this is your, or at least I felt like my one mission, right now that the baby is here, is to feed this baby. I can't even do that.

Speaker 2:

Yes, exactly Right, Like, and as an, I already had my practice, by the time, as a business owner. When you take like that, I want to be able to have be at a good place as a professional to be able to take my time as maternity leave and majority of the parents on maternity leave, you know, in their mind they have. I want to make sure my baby thrives. I want to make sure my baby is happy, the growing well, and when that is not happening, I was on a quest, I was on a mission to find out how I can be a good mom for this baby. And you know, having him had been a long road. I mean, it was IVF injections and all of that, and every time I would feed him it was sharper pain than the pesky IVF injections. Yeah Right, but you don't want to say anything about it, right? You want to be like. Well, you know this is my duty.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, as you're like holding back tears.

Speaker 2:

Right. But at the same time, like I feel like if those tears at that time or holding that like pain at that time led to, okay, at least he's doing okay, yeah, that would have been even okay, right. But like when you say like he's, he doesn't like feeding on you, or anyway, I just kind of felt like, yeah, that was that was like such a failure type emotion, and then to see how different it was, that has made it so that I'm like you know what, if I was really going to make an impact, I feel like being able to get this knowledge out there to other moms is going to be such a bigger, almost like impact, I know, but I feel like impact as well as like it's going to be life changing for so many moms because I still remember I mean years later the frustrations, right. So it's going to build memories for people, and majority of my patients that I see continue to see you know, as my kids that I'm treating and now, like 11, 12, 13, and I saw them as babies, right, and moms and I talk about it.

Speaker 2:

We still talk about it as if it was yesterday, even them like thousands of stories, right, thousands of moms, thousands over the last 15 years. I feel like we have known each other for a decade, so over the last 15 years like thousands and thousands of time, but it you do this and then you kind of think that that's a part of your life. And then every time, every time we go somewhere, we say something and I say I do this, someone or the other would be like I know someone, or someone in my family or someone in my neighborhood. So I feel like that is something that is not discussed enough. And so this is the year and you were helping me do this. I didn't know if this was gonna go that way.

Speaker 1:

The conversation, but no, that's fine. Okay, so then let's bring it back to like okay, you're doing a TED talk, you're focusing on teaching and creating resources for other providers and providers and everybody of the sorts. In terms of, like, five, 10 years. If you're looking out, where do you see yourself in five, 10 years, personally as well as professionally?

Speaker 2:

Great question. You know I wanna be able to. I wanna say that I will have grown my teaching part of the practice. Right now we have few doctors bring their team to our practice to learn how we're doing this. I definitely wanna grow the baby's and infant side of the practice because I feel like that's where it's lacking, like not all doctors do it, versus the dentistry portion. And then I wanna be able to have more doctors within the practice so that I can do more of these type of things. So speaking, talking, doing a little bit more than everyday things, but then I definitely wanna continue doing dentistry as well. So that's where I see.

Speaker 1:

No, that's cool. And then, in terms of marketing, can you tell me a little bit about how you got started? Oh yeah, what's been like your favorite marketing strategies, not just for your specific practice, but just overall?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So it's great a question because I feel like I did not know much about marketing and things like that when I opened my practice. Right, my practice was like a work of labor, but most of my patients came from word of mouth and even today, if you look at majority of the patients and we ask every single patient how did you hear about us and everything. It's not like social media and Google or whatever it is. My doctor told me to come to you or my lactation consultant told me to come to you. Speech pathologist told me to come to you, my neighbor told me to come to you.

Speaker 2:

So word of mouth and what I feel like what I've done mainly is network, and the network connection with almost like the team in the community has been my biggest marketing as well as, yeah, marketing, biggest marketing. So they have direct communication with our practice. When they send a patient, they are able to say go here, they will tell you to do this. This is how I'll support you, and I think parents like that. Parents have been able to feel that they are going for a specific concern and we will be able to guide them through the process, versus feeling overwhelmed when you go to a hospital or like a place.

Speaker 2:

So my biggest and I mean anybody that is interested or want to learn from our talk today I would say creating community connections, building a team, building a tribe, not only in your own field, like, of course, I marketed to the general dentist right, like other dentists in the area, but majority of the times the general dentist knew to send me patients that were having difficulty in their practice. So I was getting like a skewed population and I'm a resource for that. But I don't think that I would say 20% of the patients require that specialized care and that would not be, as a business owner, the only survival thing you have to market to the other outside of dental. So daycare providers I feel like were the other, the nurses in the daycares, schools in the areas. We did screenings and my team would help me do dental awareness months and stuff like that. But still, the biggest impact onto my practice was from my own connections and network building.

Speaker 1:

That's great and you're just amping that up more Now that you're gonna be doing a lot more teachings and educational and that's true, yeah, that's wonderful. Before I wrap this up, tell me what you actually do for fun Travel.

Speaker 2:

Tell me about that. We have traveled all over the world except Antarctica, but even with my son, even when he was a toddler and everything, we have traveled a lot. So this year is gonna be the 20th anniversary and last year we decided we're gonna do 20 things. Oh nice, small and big trips.

Speaker 1:

20th anniversary of what?

Speaker 2:

Of wedding anniversary. So my husband and I love traveling and two of us take trips together, and then we were kind of worried like when, but not once I had my son, like how would he do? But he's done well too. If you're going somewhere, mama, it's gonna be one plane or two planes, yeah. And he like how he knows how far off I know exactly One plane or two planes, and then he also, you know, has figured something out and you know, is it gonna be sitting like this or sitting like this?

Speaker 1:

Oh, fancy Are we getting.

Speaker 2:

I know, oh, fancy. And then when he asked that and my husband and I looked at it and was like he's processing, we better not do that. Yeah, this cannot be as normal, so, yeah. So I love traveling, planning for my travels, making sure that we are, you know, trying to get the best of like, enjoying the locations we're going to. That's amazing.

Speaker 1:

No, I love that.

Speaker 2:

That's my biggest thing.

Speaker 1:

And then, if you had to share one message with the world, or anything else we didn't touch on specifically, what would that be?

Speaker 2:

So I'd leave you with this one thing Weight gain is not the only defining symptom of a feeding difficulty. If you see a mom that is having more feeds that are a struggle than an enjoyable experience. We can free up moms from guilt and make the biggest impact on their baby's life by reminding her to have their baby's mouth looked at. Take away the judgment from her and make sure we are evaluating the baby. You can probably change their life from thinking always about am I doing this right To? I think my baby is healthy. That's awesome, that's awesome.

Growth and Teaching in 2023
Pediatric Laser Dentistry and Comprehensive Care
Lip and Tongue Tie's Impact
Marketing Strategies and Travel for Fun