In line with the EFP Perio & Family Doctors campaign, EFP member societies have launched initiatives to collaborate with other medical professions. Two successful initiatives are presented below.
Promosalud: SEPA's Initiative to detect risk factors
The Spanish Society of Periodontology and Osseointegration (SEPA) embarked in 2022 on a ground-breaking initiative called Promosalud, aimed at promoting overall health through dental care. At the core of this initiative is the recognition that gum health plays a pivotal role in overall health and well-being. Promosalud has the strategic support of Dentaid.
Research has shown that advanced periodontitis can triple the risk of heart problems, dementia, and certain types of cancer. Understanding the profound impact of oral health on overall health, Promosalud emphasises the importance of regular follow-ups and preventive measures. Tools are provided free of charge by SEPA to over 22 000 dental clinics in Spain.
The vision of Promosalud is clear: focus on well-being and prevention. It starts with the first dental visit, where patients are informed about the integral connection between oral and general health. The second visit involves collecting detailed information and the medical history of the patient. The step-by-step process to get started and implement this project is described in videos (in Spanish) and through other media.
Promosalud takes a comprehensive approach to assess physical activity, diet, alcohol intake, stress, blood pressure, and diabetes risk. The Findrisc questionnaire, together with blood tests, and measurements such as blood pressure, BMI and waist circumference are employed to identify potential health risks.
"Gum health is pivotal for overall health,” said Dr José Nart, SEPA president. “This initiative highlights the importance of collaboration between dental professionals and other healthcare providers. Periodontists, while not diagnosing, play a crucial role in establishing risk and liaising with doctors, including family doctors, cardiologists and endocrinologists,” he explained.
Collaboration with specialists in cardiology, endocrinology, and other health professionals is a key aspect of Promosalud and vital for comprehensive patient care, in line with the EFP Perio & Family Doctors campaign.
Dr Nart underlines the need for periodontists to consider overall health when treating patients, particularly acknowledging the impact of severe gum disease on general health. Also, if conditions such as very high blood pressure are established, dental treatment should be delayed until the patient has seen his physician and addressed the issue.
With over 1200 clinics already enrolled, provisional data indicates the effectiveness of Promosalud, with patients willingly participating in the simple yet impactful protocol. The initiative underscores the need for dental clinics to have guidelines for following up with patients who have identified health risks. SEPA is actively working to develop guidelines, protocols, and recommendations, as well as fostering relationships with medical and dental associations for a holistic approach to healthcare.
“Promosalud represents a paradigm shift in dental care, recognising the mouth as a window into overall health,” said Nart. “By promoting collaboration and preventive measures, this initiative aims to improve oral health, thereby positively impacting the well-being of individuals,” he concludes.
Swiss Society of Periodontology promotes interprofessional collaboration
The Swiss Society of Periodontology (SSP) recently published a position paper on “Interprofessionality in periodontal care,”emphasing its strong commitment to enhancing interprofessional collaboration within dental practices across the country.
Doctor Christoph Ramseier, president of the SSP said: “The Swiss Society of Periodontology is strongly committed to promoting interprofessional collaboration in the dental practice. Our main goal is to improve the periodontal health of the population through 1) quality assurance, 2) interprofessional collaboration, and 3) awareness campaigns.”
The cornerstone of the strategy is effective coordination among general dentists, periodontists, dental hygienists (DH), and prophylaxis assistants (PA). This interprofessional approach ensures that patients receive optimal care tailored to their individual periodontal needs.
One particular benefit is that all oral health professionals are enabled to detect early signs of periodontitis. Even if prophylaxis assistants (PA) are not trained to recognise periodontitis as such, they can apprehend increased probing depths, which must always be followed up by the dental hygienist (DH) or dentist. This means that periodontal disease can be detected earlier, and treatment can be started sooner. Starting treatment earlier can reduce the cost and duration of periodontal treatment and decrease the frequency of follow-up visits. This presents medical advantages for the patient, as well as economic and organisational benefits for the dental practice.
"The Swiss Society of Periodontology believes that interprofessional collaboration among all oral health professionals is fundamental to the future of efficient periodontal care in Switzerland. This approach allows for continuous improvement in the quality of patient care while responding to the changing needs of our society," stated Dr Ramseier.
Regarding the long-term impact of the position paper on the dental profession in Switzerland, Ramseier highlighted the potential for significant positive change. The proposed measures are anticipated to improve patient care by enabling early detection of periodontal issues, leading to reduced treatment costs and durations.
Next steps in implementing the proposed improvements include a structured and collaborative approach. Dental practices are encouraged to conduct regular team meetings to discuss and implement the concepts outlined in the position paper. Clear protocols for patient information transfer between PAs, DHs, general dentists, and periodontists are also recommended, to ensure seamless and high-quality patient care.
In addition, roles should be regularly reviewed and adjusted as necessary to ensure that both PAs and DHs can make the best use of their respective skills.
The key to successful implementation, according to Dr Ramseier, lies in ongoing communication, collaboration, and commitment from all oral health professionals involved. As the dental profession in Switzerland looks towards the future, these measures are poised to bring about lasting positive changes in periodontal care.