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Hygienist Victoria’s “Secret”

Victoria TEDJARATI, Oral Hygiene Dir., Hygienist

Victoria Tedjarati is the Dental Hygienist at United Family Hospital.

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Victoria has been with us for an amazing 12 years. After this time, what changes has Victoria seen in patients in Shanghai? What kind of daily routine does she maintain in order to remain healthy and successful?

We spoke to Victoria to find out more.

How does your week go? Do you have certain routines?

Yes, very much so – I’m an early sleeper. Every evening, I ensure that I have switched off my phone, or at least have it on silent, otherwise ‘screen-time’ can be a distraction.

My general weekly routine it to work for four days and then have three days off. This is because on the working days, I usually work for around 10 hours per day. So I need the time to rest my body and my mind, in order to be a better physician. On the working days, I am talking non-stop during the day, with colleagues and with patients, so I need a full rest.

Do you start your day in a certain way?

I start with a habit of getting up early, with a good breakfast, and also preparing my lunch in advance.

I start with warm water, meditation for around 15 minutes, or I can more accurately say reflection. I reflect on what happened yesterday, and what the plans are today. I already know the schedule, having printed it out the previous day, so I review this also.

I listen to music or read a quotation of affirmation, or perhaps a book such as 7 Habits of Effective People, or the like. For me, it’s important to have morning habits. I also like to do 10 minutes of yoga or Pilates, in order to stay in good physical condition.

What time does the working day start for you?

I arrive to work at 8am, and the day usually starts at 8:30am. Our team has a huddle, as communication is crucial. Even if only for 5 minutes, talking about the day ahead allows us to talk about the patients we are going to see, and share relevant advice.

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Have you seen changes in patients over the decade-plus you have been in Shanghai?

Patients are referring other people to us now. Hygienists have been practicing in other countries for over 50 years, while in China it is relatively recent to that. 12 years ago, there wasn’t much understanding on dental hygiene, in terms of a dentist referring the cleaning to a hygienist.

The qualification for the health of the gum takes three of four years, as a specialisation. So we needed to educate patients about periodontal health and that the gum is a foundation for the mouth. If the gums are not healthy, then dentists cannot even do their work. Prevention is also crucial.

Patients are now more understanding and compliant with treatment, and are more regularly referring their friends now that they see the effects for their health.

When do people need to start seeing a hygienist?

As early as when a baby. When the first tooth has come out, then they can see a dentist. You don’t need to wait for 20 teeth. It’s important for the parents and even the ayi to be educated in how to care of the teeth that are coming in. Even nowadays, some people don’t understand the care needed for milk teeth, and we even see children with cavities. I print out a lot of information and go through this education with them.

The bacteria in their mouth affects their stomach and overall health. Regular treatments for all ages are crucial – teeth cleaning must be done professionally as every part of teeth and mouth-cleaning cannot be done very deeply by yourself.

You seem extremely passionate and loving in your work and the world of health. Did you always want to be in this role?

I love being a hygienist. When I was 7 years old, I went to the dentist and when I left I took the mirror! I thought it was mine because it had been used in my mouth. For weeks at home I was looking in the mirror, and I even put a tooth inside the cup to learn how to use the mirror.

Then my mother saw, so we booked an appointment to return the mirror. Since then I always wanted to be a dentist. I couldn’t go to dental school at that time, so I went to hygienist school, I graduated in 1994, and it was a dream come true to help people. Passion about your work is contagious and patients can feel that.

I do love other things such as meditation, visiting children in orphanages, and I teach the kids about brushing teeth, I have an English corner about health and hygiene. I think it’s important to get your passion across, as education doesn’t belong to us. Passing this on to creates a more meaningful life and benefits everyone’s knowledge.

Ms. Tedjarati is a registered dental hygienist who obtained her honors degree from Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York. Victoria moved from Toronto, Ontario to Shanghai in July 2005 with a desire to educate patients in importance of preventive dentistry. She has participated in many community services in schools in Shanghai. Ms Tedjarati worked as a dental hygienist in private dental clinics in Montreal and Toronto for over 20 years.