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In this series of articles, the EFP is asking its partners how they see the need for changing behaviours in dental prevention and healthcare and what they themselves are doing about it.
In this interview we talk to Matteo Basso , the Scientific Director for Curasept who also leads the group of consultants that supports clinical topics for the company, and Paola Della Bruna, Scientific and Clinical affairs Manager who works with Matteo to translate clinical findings into marketing material.
Matteo Basso may be a science boffin for Curasept, but first and foremost he is a dentist! He has his own practice and works at a university. So, naturally he thinks promoting good dental health is vital, but how?
“To promote these behaviours is not just something that we have to tell the patient, no, it is something that should be really promoted.”
He goes on: “What is important is how to connect to the patient or the customer and to make them aware of the importance of adopting good oral behaviours.”
He believes companies like Curasept have a duty to give professionals the tools they need to impart knowledge to customers. It could mean leaflets, advertising, TV promotions etc.
Paola agrees heartily, and says Curasept is already doing this. “We try to involve everyone, including pharmacies, we try to involve people directly with YouTube videos for instance, or tips. Our focus is to improve the knowledge of oral hygiene, not only for our oral health, but all of our health because we have a correlation.”
This is interesting because there is more and more research that suggests the mouth is not separate from the body, and an holistic approach to oral health is vital. Curasept is onto it!
Matteo highlights a problem though. The knowledge may be there at a clinical and professional level, but the public still doesn’t get it!
“Just today I put a video on a loop in my surgery telling my patients the information they need, like for a toothbrush, manual or electric?”
He explains that there are plenty of publications on this, and the knowledge is there high up, but the patient is not clear about that knowledge.
“In this video in the room, there is no answer given. The answer is to come and ask the experts which is the correct one [toothbrush] to adapt to you, because a tool may be good for me but not for you!”
In other words, we need to get much more bespoke about an individual patient’s needs and what will suit them. One toothbrush size does not fit all! There is no “standardised patient” Matteo Basso believes.
So what does Curasept do to help improve patient knowledge about the need to assess their own individual needs?
“Curasept works hard on that” says Paola Della Bruna, “we like to improve the knowledge about the importance of prevention and the importance of using the right tools.”
Another problem, according to Paola, is that many people practice self care and self medication. “People follow prescriptions from doctors, but sometimes when they talk about oral healthcare they talk to their mother, friends, or look up on the internet and they don’t go to the dentists or hygienists!”
Curasept is trying to remedy this with publications, advice on the internet and educating pharmacists. It believes pharmacists have a huge role to play in giving advice on different products.
Of course, like just about everyone in the oral health field, both Matteo and Paola believe that there is much more that governments and organisations like the EFP can and should do to help educate and inform. Matteo Basso wants action at EU level!
“What is really missing, in the European Community especially, is a common way of acting on this.”
Perhaps slightly cynically, he believes that one reason for lack of supra national action may be cost!
“Prevention is expensive but on the other side 10% need orthodontic, 10% need periodontic, 10% need prosthetic, but 100% need prevention, so this is what generally should be promoted!”
Maybe the problem is there isn’t money to be made in prevention, it just costs governments, at least in the short term!
Paola Della Bruna couldn’t agree more and returns to her holistic approach.
“We are supporting a lot of projects from SIdP and EFP to promote the correlation with general health.”
Both of them agree that the big companies need to support the likes of the EFP to help with objective and clinically led research which can then be disseminated to everyone, including patients.
If there is ONE thing each of them would really hammer home about improving behaviour for better oral health what would it be?
For Paola it is making sure that all product information is scientifically led and agreed with the likes of the EFP, so it really is objective and not just a marketing tool by individual companies.
For Matteo it is for dentists like him follow the script and to change their own behaviour, working more on prevention rather than intervention. Caries is NOT normal!
Food for thought? Just remember to brush properly afterwards!