“There’s no magic bullet: your dental hygiene has to be impeccable.”

 Marina Berner, dental hygienist at Smile and Care Eaux-Vives and Grand-Saconnex

Marina Berner is a dental hygienist at the Smile and Care clinics in Eaux-Vives and Grand-Saconnex. Passionate about the healthcare sector, and after earning a Swiss Federal Certificate of Professional Competence (CFC) in dental assistance and two years’ professional experience, she completed a 3-year full-time training course in dental hygiene before joining Smile and Care.


What do you like the most about your job?

This job is, above all, a manual job – something I absolutely love: I didn’t see myself doing an administrative job. I really enjoy interacting with the patients and being able to follow their progress in terms of dental hygiene. Preventative care also plays a major role in my job.

In your opinion, what are the qualities needed for doing this job well? 

My goal is to help patients maintain their dental health. It’s a job that requires meticulousness and patience: meticulousness, because it often involves very delicate work to avoid their experiencing pain, and patience, because it’s about knowing how to take the time to carry out a good dental cleaning and to establish a good connection.

What are the main treatments you provide?

I mainly carry out dental scaling and bleaching. As a hygienist, I’m responsible for preventing dental pathologies linked to the presence of dental plaque – like cavities and gingivitis. Another part of the dental hygienist’s job is to teach our patients the principles of good oral hygiene, which means keeping their mouths healthy and using good brushing techniques.

Why is dental scaling so important for children and adults alike? 

As a general rule, we focus on the 4 pillars of preventative care, and dental scaling is part of this.

These pillars are:

  1. Brushing your teeth: You should brush your teeth two to three times a day, preferably after meals. It is particularly important to brush thoroughly in the evening before going to bed. Brushing in the evening is the most important, since teeth are most vulnerable at night, when the protective flow of saliva decreases.
  2. Dental scaling: This should be done twice a year for adults, and once a year for children.
  3. Fluoride intake: We recommend using fluoridated toothpaste or fluoride-enriched mouthwashes.
  4. A healthy diet: It’s important to be careful and to follow dietary rules: avoid foods and drinks with too much sugar, and avoid snacking.

How is dental scaling different for children?

Children are less prone to tartar than adults, but require more guidance in dental hygiene. While every patient is of course very different, awareness of the importance of oral health isn’t always obvious for children. For us, the importance of repeated explanations makes perfect sense, which is why an annual dental scaling appointment is crucial.

When it comes to dental hygiene, what are the most widespread problems in general?

Bad breath, the risk of developing cavities, and gum inflammation. Gingivitis is a gum disease caused by an accumulation of dental plaque. It develops into periodontal disease, which leads to bone loss around the teeth and to receding gums. The process is insidious because it is painless and leads to tooth loss.

How many dental scalings per year do you recommend?

Every patient is different. But as a general rule, we recommend two dental scalings per year. That said, certain patients need a cleaning every quarter, while others need it only once a year. Dental scaling is an important marker, enabling us to detect any other pathologies, and allowing the dental hygienist to guide the patient towards other specialists in our two clinics.

What do you say to someone who doesn’t dare do a dental scaling for fear of their gums hurting?

Today, we have a number of different solutions available that allow us to carry out pain-free dental scalings, such as anaesthesia or anaesthetic gel. The Airflow and ultrasound are also valuable instruments. If dental hygiene is good, though, dental scaling normally isn’t painful.

What technical developments are helping to improve oral hygiene?

Regular brushing – at least twice a day – is still the baseline. Then, we recommend using dental floss or interdental brushes. It all depends on the patient, their skills, and the space between their teeth.

What’s the magic bullet for no cavities and for keeping a perfect smile? 

(Smiling) There’s no magic bullet: your dental hygiene has to be impeccable!

Which toothbrush do you recommend?

We recommend traditional toothbrushes as much as we do electric ones. We guide patients based on their dexterity, their mouth, and their age.

Are patients loyal to their dental hygienist? 

Over 80% of my patients are ones who come back regularly. The fact of having access to specialists (orthodontists, dentists, periodontists) within the same clinic allows for overall patient care, and fosters closeness and a climate of confidence.

How do you see your professional growth?

I really enjoy my job and the contact it gives me with patients. I would now like to take the local anaesthetic course for dental hygienists.

The profession of dental hygienist in a nutshell

A dental hygienist’s main activities include preventative care, treatment, and administrative work. They prevent and treat diseases of the oral cavity (gingivitis, periodontitis), eliminate inflammatory factors (tartar, plaque), and teach patients the preventative measures needed to keep their teeth and the tissues that support them healthy.

Training to become a dental hygienist takes 3 years on a full-time basis. Practical training is provided in the first and second years in the school’s teaching clinic, followed by a long-term internship in the third year.

Find out more on this link.