New outreach campaign promotes collaboration between oral health providers and family physicians

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An ongoing and open exchange between oral-health providers and family physicians can effectively improve the quality of their patients' treatment and wellbeing, and in certain cases even save lives. The closer the collaboration between dental and general practitioners, the bigger the improvement in their patients' treatment standards, particularly in relation to serious chronic conditions such as diabetes, and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Family doctors should be informed about gum diseases and their consequences, while oral health professionals should be made aware of the significance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their associated risk factors.

This lies at the core of the new outreach campaign Perio & Family Doctors, an initiative jointly developed by the EFP (European Federation of Periodontology) and WONCA Europe (European branch of the World Organisation of Family Doctors), and sponsored by Curasept, an EFP partner.

In 2022, 18 experts from the EFP and WONCA Europe examined the role of family physicians and the oral-health team and formulated a series of recommendations for both groups of clinicians. Their conclusions were published in a scientific consensus report published earlier this year in the EFP-edited Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

"This groundbreaking campaign marks a giant leap forward in enlightening family doctors, periodontists, and other oral health providers about the potential for closer collaboration. Together, we can proactively tackle and manage prevalent systemic health conditions that impact patients worldwide, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension, obesity, diabetes, smoking, and hyperlipidemia," explains Darko Bozic, EFP president. "Our campaign is also addressed to the general public, as patients should be aware of the advantages and benefits of good oral health," Prof Bozic indicates.

"In light of our recent findings, it is imperative to recognize that periodontitis transcends its localized origins in the oropharynx," highlights Shlomo Vinker, president of WONCA Europe. "Instead, it emerges as a condition intimately intertwined with broader systemic disease states. To address this paradigm shift, the collaboration between dentists and family doctors becomes paramount. Together, we must institute proactive strategies for the early identification of periodontitis within primary care centers and, conversely, of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes within dental settings.

Prof Vinker adds: "Strengthening the bond between oral health professionals and family doctors is instrumental not only in the early detection and management of NCDs but also in fostering healthier lifestyles. The development and evaluation of pathways for early case detection of periodontitis in family medicine practices and NCDs in dental practices marks the next frontier in our collective pursuit of comprehensive healthcare."

The Perio & Family Doctors campaign materials include infographics and other digital content available at the EFP website at efp.org/periofamilydoctors/. "Our aim with these materials is to make visual and intuitive the core messages of the consensus report, which thoroughly examined the latest scientific evidence available supporting that periodontal disease, in particular periodontitis or chronic inflammation of the gums, is independently associated with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, and respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnoea, and Covid-19 complications," explains Prof Anton Sculean, chair of the EFP's Projects committee.

"Research shows that severe periodontitis is the sixth most common disease globally and yet its impact on general health is still so little known," says Giulia Giovannardi, International Business Development Manager at Curasept. "We at Curasept have always been committed to finding new innovative solutions to improve oral care. Oral care plays an important part in the general wellbeing of a person. For this reason, we are proud to support the research of our scientific partners to advance the level of awareness and treatment of patients."

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