Talking to a Professional

Jeanne-Marie Engelbrecht

Jeanne-Marie Engelbrecht opened the first independent Oral Hygienist practice in Somerset West (Western Cape, South Africa).
She qualified in 1994 with a Dipl. OH (Stell), and  further training with an extended function I in 2002 and extended function II in 2016 as well as a B.H/ECON (ED) 1989 (Stell).
At the end of her training in 1994 she received the award for the most outstanding oral hygienist of her year group.
She continues to expand her skills and knowledge through yearly CPD courses in order to provide patients with new information and the best quality care available.
Her information follows below:

Jeanne-Marie, why did you choose to become an oral hygienist?

I had to get braces when I was still in school and the whole experience intrigued me a lot about the oral hygiene profession. I was a teacher for three years before making the shift towards the oral hygiene industry. Since then I haven’t looked back and I enjoy every moment, especially helping individuals and working for myself.

How difficult was it to open an independent oral hygienist practice in South Africa and how many of you are there in the country?

A few years ago something like an independent oral hygienist didn’t even exist in South Africa and I was fortunate enough to be one of the first few.
Practically it was very difficult as dentists didn’t want oral hygienists to be independent, this may still be the reason why there is most likely less than 40 independent mouth hygienists in South Africa.
Lots of studying, hard work and experience is needed to become an independent mouth hygienist. 

From your vast experience what is the most common mistake people make with their mouth hygiene routine?

Over brushing is a major issue.
Then diet mistakes such as excessive sugar and  acid based food and drinks cause severe tooth decay.
It is recommended that people brush twice a day and floss. Personal oral hygiene differs from person to person so it is essential that you visit an oral hygiene specialist at least once a year to help you customize your mouth hygiene routine.

Do you recommend the use of fluoride in toothpaste?

It all depends on how much fluoride you already ingest per day. Fluoride is a natural substance that can be found in nature. Certain regions in South Africa have more than enough fluoride such as the Transvaal and Karoo. In these regions fluoride toothpaste isn’t necessary.
The Cape has a lack of natural fluoride so it is definitely necessary to get additional fluoride in every day. 
Be careful of getting too much fluoride in your system as it is very toxic for humans. Use moderate amounts of toothpaste when brushing: a pee sized amount is the ideal amount to brush your teeth.

What would your recommended advice be to people who are currently using the non-fluoride based Bits? 

It would be a good idea to alternate the use of toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride with those that does when you live in an area with low levels of natural fluoride. Maybe use a fluoride based product every other day alternating with a fluoride free product.

You've worked with a person who has used Earthly Reinvented Toothpaste Bits for about six months. Was there any difference in his overall mouth and teeth health in comparison to someone who uses normal fluoride based toothpaste?

No not at all - I found no cavities in the individual’s teeth and overall he has an exceptional pair of teeth.
This said good teeth health has quite a few contributing factors, though. Different diets, genetics and mouth hygiene routines are some factors to take into consideration. 
So make sure that if you use natural products such as Earthly Bits and live in an area with little natural fluoride, as mentioned previously, that you get some in to make sure your teeth are well protected. 

What do you think of the concept of the Toothpaste Bits?

I think this is an exceptional concept especially for travelling, hiking and other outdoor activities. Being such an eco-friendly product is also a major bonus for the well-being of our planet.
Something that I especially enjoy is that I can see all the ingredients that are used in the Bits. This is almost unheard off in the industry. Most large toothpaste companies protect their formulas so much so that no one actually knows what is in the toothpastes they use. It is quite scary if you think of it. 

Would you use Toothpaste Bits or normal Toothpaste?

I would definitely rather use a more eco-friendly option if the two options consisted of the same ingredients but are manufactured and packaged  differently.
The only difference between the two options would be that toothpaste tubes contain glycerin and water to make it into a paste. Because most toothpaste tubes are made of a combination of laminated plastic and aluminum it is currently impossible to recycle. Even if you where able to recycle the tubes you would need to use a lot of water to first clean the plastic tube before you are able to recycle it.

1 comment


I don’t like the taste of the mint toothpastes and it’s very difficult for me to find a toothpaste.
What would you recommend I do

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