EFP: Partnerships prevent problems!

In this interview we talk to Monique Danser, treasurer of the EFP, herself a periodontist.

Monique Danser is adamant that the EFP cannot act alone. “Good oral health, it enables individuals to perform essential functions, such as eating breathing and speaking, and contributes to self-confidence, well-being and interacting with other people.”  She goes on “Our partners of course have the products that help in promoting oral health and in having good oral hygiene, and thus hopefully to prevent periodontitis.”

The other advantage of the companies themselves is that they have access to a wider audience through commercials aiming at the general public, whereas the EFP mainly talks to dental professionals.

So if the partners can help the EFP, how does the EFP help them?

“At the EFP we do run impactful educational campaigns and we do that in collaboration with the partners, to raise awareness of the importance of oral health.  For instance, we have the Gum Health Day which is always on May 12th, with the aim to increase public awareness of the seriousness of gum disease and the health problems associated with that.”

Liaison between the EFP and its partners is vital.  Monique Danser explains how it works.  “We provide them [the partners] scientific evidence for what we would like to promote and we work together in promoting periodontal health.”  She goes on “for instance we just had a workshop organised and we disseminated guidelines in treating periodontal diseases. This is something we also announced to our partners so we give them the context about these guidelines.”

Sharing science, hosting workshops, preparing communication initiatives and giving them to partners is all about this need to have the EFP “message” delivered to a wider audience by the partners themselves.

The EFP also embarks on projects with its partners.  For example in November 2023 there will be a workshop on education which is where it all starts with the dental students, oral hygienists students and the post-graduation programs.

It is obvious that the EFP needs its valued partners to help it get the message about the importance of oral health out there, beyond the dentist’s chair, to the wider public.  There is a symbiosis between the two. 

What is the EFP’s wish in the next year or two when it comes to educating the public? “As a periodontist we can address diseases by treating it in removing plaque and calculus and promoting good oral hygiene, but lifestyle changes are something that we need to take on. It is already embedded in the guidelines step 1 of the treatment of periodontitis. And we must aim much more on prevention than treatment” says Danser.

If she could only have ONE thing she’d change about behaviour, what would it be?

“Can I do two” she laughs! “The first is smoking, the second is nutrition. By changing nutrition, or not smoking, you also enhance the immune system of the patient, the fitness of the patient, so he is more likely to be able to attack the bacterial challenge when it comes.”

A balanced diet is vital too, “you want to have a low carbohydrate diet, you want to restrict added sugars and refined grains and you need to have an adequate intake of essential nutrients and dietary fibres.”  Good for your oral health, but pretty good generally too!

One last thought as to why the help of partners in getting the oral health message across is so vital.  Together we can foster a collective effort to inspire and promote behaviour change. According to the World Health Organisation report in 2021, oral health should be embedded in general health programmes. It also says that by 2030 oral health should be embedded in insurance!  “Oral healthcare is not available to so many people and is so expensive” says Monique Danser, “and prevention is the easiest and cheapest tool but again it is awareness that needs changing.”  “Insurance companies do save money if they spend more time on prevention, so it is a very important thing.” The publication in the Economist in 2021 clearly support this.

Prevention is better than cure, and prevention is about education and reaching a very wide audience.  Some people may never have heard of the EFP, but they all have a favourite toothpaste, mouthwash, or even interdental brush!  The people who make those things, the EFP partners, are the ones who can reach out and really make a difference!