« The well-being of my patients is crucial. »

Margaux Tournier, dental hygienist

Margaux Tournier has been a dental hygienist at the Sonnex clinic in Grand-Saconnex for 10 years. She holds a diploma from the Geneva School of Dental Hygiene and had already completed her final-year training at Smile and Care in 2013.
What do you like most about your job?

It’s undeniably the personal contact because my patients’ wellbeing is paramount. A patient’s oral health is linked to their general health, and that’s what makes my role useful. I like people to feel good, both in terms of hygiene and aesthetics.

In your opinion, what qualities are needed to do this job well?

Precision, listening, caring, and a touch of perfectionism (smile). The hygienist’s personality goes a long way, especially with anxious patients. I enjoy being able to give them advice.

Do you have many anxious patients?

Yes, and their fears are mostly due to bad experiences. Nowadays, our approach is patient-focused, and our ability to know how to behave is crucial for the patient’s wellbeing. You have to be alert to the slightest sign of pain. Some patients ask for a local anaesthetic before treatment. Since I was recently trained in local anaesthesia (in Geneva), I can do this.

Is scaling as important for children as it is for adults?

It is indeed just as important! To create habits, it’s important for children to learn about dental hygiene as early as possible. Sometimes, scaling can be done as early as 2 years old, on baby teeth, when there is significant tartar, or when parents are unable to clean the child’s mouth. We take the opportunity to show parents the right steps and give them advice on prophylaxis (hygiene, diet). Not treating baby teeth has an impact on permanent teeth. I recommend once-yearly scaling from 6 years of age, at the same time as the dental check-up. How long it lasts depends on the young patient’s dental hygiene, diet, and the amount of tartar build-up.

How is scaling done differently with children?

The approach is clearly more playful: everything is explained and shown, including the plaque staining exercise.

What general dental hygiene problems are the most common?

There are no general problems in this field, which is what makes it exciting! We deal with multifactorial problems. Dental hygiene affects everything: the patient’s overall lifestyle, diet, medication, brushing techniques, and profession. Each patient is different and requires a personalised approach and examination.

As dental hygienists, we play a crucial role in prevention. In general, the patient comes to see the hygienist and we refer them to the specialists who can deal with their pathology: periodontist, pedodontist, etc.

Is there a link between a patient’s general health and their oral health?

Yes – and this link goes both ways. For example, dental hygiene and controlling diabetes go hand in hand. The same stands true for inflammatory or autoimmune diseases. This is where our advisory role comes into its own. When the first signs of pain appear, it is often too late. Our profession is about prevention and maintenance.

What technical developments are there in improving oral hygiene?

The electric toothbrush is often recommended as part of hygiene protocols. Indeed, it enables thorough brushing and is useful in the event of problems with arthritis. It is not, however, suitable for everyone – especially those with very sensitive or thin gums.

What’s the miracle solution for keeping a perfect smile?

Brush 3 times a day with fluoride toothpaste and use an interdental tool at least once a day. Sugar consumption and snacking should be avoided, and regular check-ups – at least once a year – should be done by a dental hygienist.

Is there an ideal time to brush your teeth?

If there is a time to remember, it’s in the evening, when all the plaque that has accumulated during the day is removed. Two good brushings a day are essential: in the morning and in the evening. If you don’t have time at lunchtime, a fluoride mouthwash can help.

What do you say to someone who doesn’t dare do dental scaling because their gums are sore?

Nowadays, there are many ways to avoid pain. At Smile and Care, we don’t treat patients who are experiencing pain – it’s unthinkable. There are dental desensitisers and local anaesthetics that alleviate this problem.


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