Raising awareness about periodontal disease
Prof. Dr David Herrera, professor of periodontology at the University of Madrid, discusses awareness of periodontal disease, the role of the dental team in its management, periodontal emergencies and other related issues such as antimicrobial resistance in advance of the World Oral Health Forum 2017.
What is the level of awareness among dental practitioners of periodontal disease and how to treat it?
The level of awareness may differ among different countries. In Spain, dental practitioners are comprehensively trained during their Degree in Dentistry to perform periodontal screening and diagnosis, and to perform basic periodontal therapy for all periodontitis patients, including complete management for initial and moderate chronic periodontitis.
Why is it important to address the role of dental team in a modern and adapted management of periodontal health?
For the management of periodontal diseases, including therapy and prevention, it is mandatory to involve a team of oral health professionals, including dental hygienist, general dentist and, in some case, a periodontist. In addition, the administrative services of the clinic are crucial for the implementation of the supportive periodontal programme.
What do you hope dentists will learn during the World Oral Health Forum?
There will be three different sections: in the first section, the key elements that justify why periodontal diseases are important, will be summarized, including epidemiological data, infections nature and local and systemic consequences. The second section will aim to explain that periodontal diseases are preventable and treatable. And in the last section, main challenged and possible recommendations will be discussed.
Is there such a thing as a ‘periodontal emergency’; if so, how is it adequately managed in an emergency room setting?
The majority of periodontal diseases have a chronic nature, and they will not need immediate care. However, there are, at least, two relevant conditions which can be considered as periodontal emergencies, namely periodontal abscesses and necrotizing periodontal diseases. The rate of tissue destruction and the associated pain in both conditions made critical an immediate attention and action, that can be made at the dental clinic.
What impact is antimicrobial resistance having on treatment options for periodontal disease?
Antimicrobials are frequently use in the management of periodontitis. Of special relevance, the use of systemic antimicrobials as adjuncts to mechanical debridement should be carefully considered, in order to use them under the most optimal conditions and only in a limited number of cases (especially, aggressive periodontitis and severe chronic periodontitis). Dentists should be aware of the risk of increasing bacterial resistance due to a non-rationale use of these drugs.
How aware is the public about risks of periodontal disease for general health – and what should be done to better inform them?
The knowledge of the general population of connexion between oral health and systemic health is very limited. To solve this lack of awareness, firstly, health professionals (both oral health and general health professionals) should be informed about the evidence available to support the association. In addition, the implications of this association need to be implemented in the preventive and early detection protocols of periodontal diseases.
What is the extent of periodontal disease among children and what preventive measures are needed?
The prevalence of periodontal diseases among children is very low in developed countries. However, education in oral hygiene and oral health importance should be made in children, in order to start preventive strategies as early in life as possible.