26 August 2020

EFP reminds patients that interrupting dental treatment may harm their health

Categories: Clinical Practice, Communication

The EFP has issued a reminder to dental patients that they should continue with their dental treatment and that neglecting their oral health can have serious consequences for their health.

One of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that many dental patients have had their treatments suspended or postponed. Periodontists and dentists have often been obliged to postpone non-urgent treatments and this has caused significant delays in dental care

In this context, the EFP urges dental practitioners to follow the evidence-based safety protocol for dental practices which it published in May. In the form of infographics, the protocol outlines the steps that should be taken so that dental practices can operate safely and manage their patients before, during, and after their treatment.

It features suggestions on patient triage, patient management in the dental office, and treatment and post-treatment routines, as well a phone-triage questionnaire with questions to ask patients when they call the dental practice to make an appointment.

The adoption of this protocol, and similar preventive measures proposed by other organisations around the world, appears to have proven effective in limiting viral spread in the dental setting. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say that there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 transmitted in a dental office.

One of the infographics of the EFP's Covid-19 safety protocol

But the EFP is concerned that patients may be wary of visiting their dental practitioners and that staying away could end up damaging their health.

“Oral health is a vital component of general health and wellbeing, and all of us need to keep looking after our teeth and gums for a better quality of life,” said Nicola West, EFP secretary general.

The EFP pointed out that neglecting dental health – even for a limited period of time – comes at a price and may have a negative impact on overall health because periodontal and dental diseases are linked to serious chronic conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and dementia.

“Dentists and periodontists have always been obligated to use effective protection protocols to keep their patients safe from any infection,” said Filippo Graziani, chair of the EFP European projects committee and past president of the federation (2019-20). “The EFP is helping dental professionals to manage patients in a secure manner thanks to clear safety protocols and they are ready and prepared to treat their patients safely.”

Social-media campaign

To create awareness of the safety protocols and promote the benefits of taking care of oral and gum health, the EFP has launched a social-media campaign using the hashtags #backtocommonsense and #visityourdentist.

Working with its affiliated national societies of periodontology, the EFP campaign encourages dental patients and professionals to access the Covid-19 safety protocol infographics and to share them via social media.

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