In celebration of its 25th anniversary, we speak to the new president of the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP), Juan Blanco, professor of periodontology at the school of medicine and dentistry at the University of Santiago de Compostela, in north-west Spain.
Professor Blanco, what are your main aims for the EFP during your presidency?
I am looking forward to an extremely interesting year for the EFP and the whole perio team. We must continue to work with other professional organisations that can help us to improve our global positioning – with institutions like the European Union and World Health Organization.
Also, the number of EFP-accredited postgraduate programmes in periodontology needs to increase. At present there are 12 such programmes in 10 countries. We must also share the knowledge of all the European national societies involved in research projects, including epidemiology studies, periodontitis and systemic links and genetic studies.
Finally, we have a fundamental need for improved communications and a strong media campaign to help us project our vision and expertise. We need the media – specialist and non-specialist – to help us create a meaningful link between the perio team and general public.
Who do you see as part of the perio team?
I see the periodontal community as consisting of general dentists, hygienists, dental surgeons, dental students, cardiologists, diabetologists, researchers, and other health professionals. If your profile fits one of these categories, you are a member of the perio team.
How will you achieve success?
Discussing gum health and gum disease at national, European and global levels will help put perio where it deserves to be in terms of official recognition. It will also increase awareness among politicians, journalists, patients and fellow health professionals everywhere. And by doing so, the EFP will be fulfilling its responsibility of disseminating valuable periodontal knowledge and contributing to the improvement of oral health, general health and public health in Europe and around the world.
Also, don’t forget that I am building on some great work of my predecessors: Søren Jepsen, Phoebus Madianos and Michèle Reners to name just three. We recognise that the EFP is here not only to serve the interests of the perio community but also the wider interests of the public.
How will improved communication benefit the EFP?
Better communication with institutions, universities, the media and medical organisations is very important for our strategic goals. This will create true behaviour change in terms of gum hygiene and the perception of the role of the perio team. Our public affairs programme will enable us to engage with allies who can help convey our message to a broader audience and thereby make our success greater in the long term.
We also need to look inwards and make our internal communication even better. To support our accredited centres that teach the postgraduate programmes and to encourage scientific cooperation among EFP-affiliated national societies is not enough. I would like to boost coordination among the EFP committees and show how the EFP can decisively help our affiliated societies.
How do the 29 national societies contribute towards the EFP vision?
Together we are stronger. By acting together, exchanging resources and tools, and learning from each other, we will succeed in changing attitudes towards periodontology. We have shown, through the extraordinary activities that were organised across Europe for the European Day of Periodontology in May, that we can do this. However, I would like to encourage and support all 29 societies, including those with less resources.
Which EFP-led collaborations are you keen to pursue?
Søren Jepsen established relationships with members of the European Parliament and senior officers of the World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation, among other influential allies. I am eager to continue his good work by developing these professional connections further – to help support my aims for the EFP during my presidency.
And finally, what is on the EFP agenda for the future?
We are working towards another great step forward with the European Day of Periodontology in May 2017 and looking forward to the EuroPerio9 congress that takes place in Amsterdam in June 2018. We are planning research-based workshops and other educational meetings throughout the year ahead.
It’s going to be a challenging time but I firmly believe the EFP can make changes that will make a difference to the levels of oral and general health across Europe and beyond.