To mark the EFP’s 25th anniversary, Perio Insight asked the presidents of the national societies and the members of the EFP committees to talk about the changes over the last quarter century, about what the EFP has achieved, and about the federation’s priorities for the future. The second of a series of three articles focuses on the question: “What have been the EFP’s main achievements over the last 25 years?"
The European Federation of Periodontology has achieved a great deal over the last 25 years, but the triennial EuroPerio congresses, the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, and its work in education are the areas most highlighted by members of EFP committees and presidents of the national societies that make up the federation.
They also point to how the EFP has succeeded in bringing together national perio societies so that they speak with a common European voice, and highlight the organisation’s outreach and communications activity to extend knowledge about periodontal health to the wider public.
“The EFP has brought together the perio societies across Europe and fostered common goals and objectives, which are apparent in the hugely successful eight EuroPerio meetings that we have had so far,” says Phil Ower (president, British Society of Periodontology).
Jūratė Žekonienė (president, Lithuanian Association of Periodontology), says that the EFP’s “main achievement” is shown during the Europerio conferences: “It is the ability to unite people for a single cause. These events gather thousands and thousands of dentists and dental hygienists from all around Europe and the rest of the world, all seeking knowledge in the periodontology field.”
For Michèle Reners (chair, EuroPerio9 organising committee), the great success of EuroPerio “is a good reflection of the unity that exists between European countries. The world biggest perio event became a must!”
While Ann-Marie Roos Jansåker (president, Swedish Periodontal Association), highlights how EuroPerio has become “the most important perio meeting in an international context”, Peter Eickholz (president, German Society of Periodontology) notes how both EuroPerio and the EFP Perio Workshops have “established European periodontology as a global player.”
EFP secretary general Iain Chapple also cites both of these EFP activities as among the federation’s main achievements, noting that the “incredible growth and success of EuroPerio” means that it is the “largest and highest quality perio congresses in the world” and pointing also to the “global impact of the European Workshops in Periodontology.”
Recent workshops have developed consensus findings on the relationship between periodontal disease and systemic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and on strategies for preventing periodontal and peri-implant disease. The next workshop, in November this year, will cover the theme of the relationship between caries and periodontal diseases.
“The annual workshops and consensus meetings are of great importance and are highly appreciated by the periodontal field,” says Monique Danser (president, Dutch Society of Periodontology), while Moshe Goldstein (chairman, postgraduate education committee), highlights how “the EFP Workshops have a global impact on periodontal education, research and clinical practice.”
As well as the well-established EuroPerio and the Perio Workshops, the newer EFP Perio Master Clinic is also mentioned as a significant EFP achievement. The first Master Clinic took place in Paris in 2013 and the second is due to take place in March 2017 in Istanbul.
The importance of education
For EFP president Juan Blanco, the federation’s most important achievement is the consolidation of periodontal education across Europe. He says that the education committee “has done a fantastic job over these last 25 years, particularly in the postgraduate area.”
He highlights the importance of the expansion of the EFP’s accredited programmes in postgraduate education, which have helped to create “a common and high-level periodontal education in the whole of Europe.”
Prof Goldstein, who as chairman of the postgraduate education committee co-ordinates this important work, notes that postgraduate education in periodontology is “expanding and continuously improving”, while France Lambert, the committee’s junior officer, says: “I can attest to the high quality of the system for postgraduate programme accreditation. More and more universities tend to achieve the EFP standards – which is excellent for periodontology in Europe.”
It is not only through the postgraduate programme that the EFP has had a big impact. As Bahar Eren Kuru (president, Turkish Society of Periodontology), points out, the EFP has also developed “a high-quality and efficient curriculum for undergraduate education” and she also highlights the postgraduate symposiums which allow students to present and discuss their work.
Kuru also praises the EFP for “pioneering a high-quality scientific journal with such a worldwide reputation and a high impact factor [3.915], the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.”
Iain Chapple also singles out “the high level and quality” of the Journal, while Joanna Kamma (external affairs committee, editor of Perio Insight) emphasises the importance of the Journal (together with EuroPerio, the Workshop and the Master Clinic) for disseminating evidence-based periodontal knowledge.
While the JCP, edited by Maurizio Tonetti, is the EFP’s main publication, it has been supported since 2014 by the research summary JCP Digest which offers easy-to-read summaries of key papers from the Journal, written for clinicians who may lack the time to read through dense research papers but who want to keep their knowledge up to date.
In addition, the conclusions of recommendations of the Perio Workshops on the links between periodontal and systemic diseases (2012) and on prevention (2014) have been widely distributed to specialist periodontists, general dentists, doctors and the public.
Outreach and public engagement
For Phil Ower, the EFP’s most important achievements centre around public engagement and patient education, and the raising of awareness of perio among the public, particularly in relation to the links between systemic disease and gum health. “Barely a week passes now when the British press don’t mention these links in one way or another,” he says. “The public is now starting to understand the importance of gum health.”
Iain Chapple also notes “the increasing public engagement of the EFP and its outward-facing activities spreading the message of ‘Perio for a Better Life,’” while Monique Danser lists “the website, with all the news items, summaries of studies, webinars, communication channels, the digital Journal and social media.”
The European Day of Periodontology, celebrated in 21 countries on May 12 with the slogan “Healthy gums for a better life”, is another example of how the federation is succeeding in spreading the word about gum health and the impact of periodontal and peri-implant diseases on oral and general health and on people’s well-being.
Joanna Kamma points to this initiative and also to the EFP’s Manifesto on perio and general health, which calls on all health professionals to act in the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease.
She also notes that it is not just patients and the public at large which have increasingly benefited from EFP activity. The federation has also recently adopted a strategy of seeking to work with key policy makers and organisations, as shown by its meetings with members of the European Parliament, with the World Health Organization, and with the International Diabetes Federation.
‘A bunch of passionate people’
This activity has also impressed France Lambert, who says: “I think that these achievements were made possible because of the extremely proficient organisational skills of our federation and due to high commitment of a bunch of passionate people. The scientific achievements of the workshops combined with the excellent communication strategy are currently bringing our speciality a step forward. I was amazed to see the connections the EFP has developed with the WHO and the European Parliament.
All these achievements have been made possible by the way that the EFP has evolved into a world-leading organisation over the last 25 years, as it has expanded from its six founder members to today’s total of 29 national-society members.
“Throughout the EFP’s evolution, there has been a permanent improvement of the activity of openness towards all European countries where periodontology is practised and the acceptance of national societies as new members of the EFP,” says Anca Silvia Dumitriu (president, Romanian Society of Periodontology).
“In our opinion these are very important achievements which permit a diversification of scientific concepts regarding prevention and periodontal treatment with the ultimate aim of improving quality of life.”
Similarly, Katrein Vermylen (president, Belgian Society of Periodontology), says: “From a relatively small society, the EFP has grown to be the stakeholder and opinion leader in Europe on periodontal health.”
But could the federation be expanding too quickly? This is a concern of Tiernan O’Brien (chairman, external affairs committee).
“Looking back on where it was 25 years ago, the main difference is that the EFP has become a much more solid player in the global periodontal community, both academic and clinical. The federation today is professionally run, far more active and more relevant to the member societies than ever before.
“If anything, the EFP may be growing too fast and a period of consolidation may be needed to bed down a new strategic plan for the federation as the demands on the limited resources of the federation are many.”
Despite this concern, he adds that “as a federation of national periodontal societies the EFP today is more united, more focused on getting the periodontal message across all of Europe, and far more effective in doing this than it was 25 years ago.”
The EFP has got to where it is today thanks to the vision of its founders and the hard work of many people over the last quarter century.
As Ricardo Faria Almeida (president, Portuguese Society of Periodontology and Implantology), puts it: “Today, the EFP is one of the most powerful organisation in the world in the field of periodontology and implantology. I think that all European periodontists should be thankful to the people that started all of this and had this beautiful dream.”