Action needed to improve gum health worldwide

worldThe European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) has issued a call for worldwide action to improve oral, general and public health.

The EFP, which this month celebrates its 25th anniversary with its vision ‘periodontal health for a better life’, comprises 29 national scientific societies in Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East. For the last 25 years it has sought to advance research and education on gum disease, and to improve the population’s gum health.

Gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis) is the most widespread condition in Europe: if untreated it can lead to tooth loss, difficulty eating and speaking and loss of self-confidence and quality of life. Periodontitis is also linked to type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions. Improving Europeans’ gum health will help prevent, detect and control these diseases, saving billions of euros in public-health spending.

The EFP highlights recent periodontal research that demonstrates links between gum disease and systemic illnesses such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic health conditions. Periodontal practitioners and dentists can play a key role in not only helping people to maintain and improve their oral health, but also in preventing, detecting and controlling these other serious illnesses.

‘The periodontal practitioner is going to become a key agent for behaviour change and health promotion as the dental practice is the “health facility” most regularly visited by healthy people,’ said former EFP president Søren Jepsen. ‘This provides an excellent opportunity to prevent disease, or at least to detect it in an early stage.’

Professor Jepsen called on health professionals to read and sign the EFP manifesto ‘Perio and General Health’, a document that explains the key role that dental professionals can play in improving general health.

Professor Juan Blanco, EFP president, announced: ‘My priority will be to continue putting gum health and gum disease high on the international health agenda for the first time in history. We hope to contribute to the common interest of patients, authorities, health agents, and citizens in general by raising awareness of periodontology, and by encouraging research and best practice.’

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