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16 September 2016

FOCUS: Recognition of perio as speciality heads list of priorities for EFP as it faces the future

Category:Perio Insight

FOCUS: Recognition of perio as speciality heads list of priorities for EFP as it faces the future

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 final of three articles focuses on the question: “What should be the EFP’s priorities in the years to come?”

The EFP has been working hard to gain recognition by the European Union of periodontology as a dental speciality, a project which many within the federation see as a top priority for the coming years.

EFP president Juan Blanco highlights achieving EU recognition of the speciality as one of his priorities, while Shai Frankenthal (president, Israeli Society of Periodontology and Osseointegration) says: “The highest EFP priority in the years to come should be making periodontology a recognised speciality in Europe.”

Former EFP secretary general Stefan Renvert recently expressed his frustration at the slow progress being made with this campaign, saying “neither the executive committee nor I realised the complexity of a project like this.”

But the benefits are clear to see from those countries in which perio is already formally recognised as a speciality within dentistry.

“In Portugal, it was not a simple and easy process, but finally we succeeded and this year we will have the first specialists recognised by the Portuguese Dental Association,” says Ricardo Faria Almeida (president, Portuguese Society of Periodontology and Implantology). He adds that while gaining European recognition will not be easy to achieve “we will succeed, and this will make European periodontology more powerful, not only inside Europe but also around the world.”

For Anca Silvia Dimitriu (president, Romanian Society of Periodontology), “The EFP’s priority should be the promotion of periodontology as a speciality of dental medicine in all European countries, with compatible curricula to establish a common professional level and enable the free movement of periodontal specialists within the European space.”

Moshe Goldstein (chair, postgraduate education committee) points out that formal recognition of the speciality will also help promote awareness of the importance of periodontology.

As well as battling away to win recognition of the speciality, working with European and other international institutions is seen as an important priority for the EFP.

Iain Chapple (EFP secretary general) highlights the importance of working with “key partners” such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union’s CHRODIS initiative on chronic diseases, while Monique Danser (president, Dutch Society of Periodontology) says that it is important that the EFP plays the role of spokesperson for all the national societies in meetings with institutions such as the WHO and the European Parliament.

This point is taken up by Tiernan O’Brien (chair, external affairs committee), who says that a clear demarcation between the role of the EFP and that of the national societies has now been established and that, “using this model, the EFP can focus more now on international and global issues – such as the WHO and the EU – while supporting as much as possible the national societies in their national activities.”

Improving still further the relationship between the EFP and the 29 national societies which comprise the federation is another area which has been highlighted as a priority for the years to come.

“We need to try to find a solution for national societies engaging more with the EFP and the EFP providing more for national societies,” says Prof Chapple.

Dr Frankenthal suggests that one way of increasing engagement would be “more joint research and collaboration between the societies,” an argument supported by Bahar Eren Kuru (president, Turkish Society of Periodontology) who calls for “exchanging students and lecturers between the member societies on a systematic basis to support the act of getting united under the EFP umbrella in all aspects.” She adds that there is a need to “motivate, encourage, and support the active involvement of all societies in different activities.”

Dr O’Brien addresses the question of the relationship between the EFP and the national societies in some detail. “The number one priority of the EFP now, as ever, is to represent a united periodontal front for Europe,” he says. “To do this better, the active involvement of the member national periodontal societies in the EFP needs to be improved.  We need the member societies to feel more ‘ownership’ of the federation and, to achieve this, we need to improve our planning and internal communication – especially from the national societies back to the EFP.”

He sees this as a significant organisational challenge which will be “the big ongoing issue for years to come.”  In addition, because there is now “so much going on and so many people now involved, an improved management system, better information sharing, and better communication should be a priority to ensure that we are all paddling the canoe in the same direction.”

One recent innovation, the introduction of junior officers in 2014, was highlighted by Michèle Reners (chair, EuroPerio9 organising committee) as a beneficial move. “I truly believe that the integration of junior officers within each EFP committee is a good way to keep the federation full of new ideas and future strategies.”

One of these junior officers, France Lambert (postgraduate education committee), adds that “the promotion of young professionals, innovative strategies and creative methods is also of major importance to the EFP.”

Science and education

The EFP’s leading role as a promotor of scientific research and its fundamental role in education are also widely seen as priorities for the 25-year-old federation.

Renata Górska (president, Polish Society of Periodontology) calls for both the development of research on the relationship between periodontal diseases and systemic diseases and for a change in the classification of periodontal diseases “based on objective parameters”. This last question will be addressed by the 2017 World Workshop on the Classification of Periodontal and Peri-implant Diseases, organised jointly by the EFP and the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP).

The EFP’s well-established postgraduate education programme – which involves three-year courses at accredited dental schools and postgraduate centres – is widely seen as one of the federation’s great successes. There are now 15 accredited postgraduate programmes in 10 countries. But there is still scope for expansion.

Prof Goldstein, who chairs the postgraduate education committee, sees one of the EFPs priorities as “to continue the promotion of periodontal postgraduate education and to bring together ‘under the wing’ of the EFP as many dental education centres as possible.”

Prof Blanco calls for the programme to be expanded, with EFP-accredited programmes in all countries with national periodontal societies that are members of the EFP.

Getting the message across

Spreading the word about perio science and evidence-based clinical practice is highlighted by many committee members and national-society presidents as a key priority for the EFP.  They stress the importance of getting the right information across to oral-health professionals, general practitioners, and the public at large – in particular, messages about the prevention of periodontal and peri-implant diseases.

Thus, Anca Silvia Dimitriu (president, Romanian Society of Periodontology) says that the EFP should focus on “the strengthening of the concept of preventative periodontal disease medicine among all the European societies of periodontology, by promoting similar protocols, so that periodontal disease does not become a pathology with an invalidating character.”

Jūratė Žekonienė (president, Lithuanian Association of Periodontology), praises the EFP for the “massive job” of preparing prevention guidelines in relation to various periodontal issues and for raising public awareness that periodontitis is a major public health issue. But, she adds, “These messages still need to reach every member of the medical community and – most importantly – our patients, until good periodontal health literacy is achieved.”

Similarly, David Herrera (past president, Spanish Society of Periodontology and Osseointegration) says that emphasis needs to be placed on “the promotion of adequate guidelines to prevent and treat peri-implant diseases.”

For Joanna Kamma (external affairs committee, editor of Perio Insight), the EFP needs to “influence policy makers and key global health authorities to invest in prevention, early detection, and control or treatment of periodontal disease” as well as “reinforce efforts in primary and secondary prevention of periodontal disease for the dentists, oral-health providers and the public.”

Key to this, she says, is to continue the work of disseminating “cutting-edge knowledge” to periodontists, dentists and other oral-health providers through webinars and videos.

Ann-Marie Roos Jansåker (president, Swedish Society of Periodontology) says that spreading and sharing knowledge about periodontal health and its impact on general health should be an EFP priority, along with “implementing evidence-based periodontology.”

As can be seen from these comments, communications is now an increasingly important aspect of the EFP’s work and there are calls for the federation to increase its activity in this area still further in order to get the key messages across.

“More European media campaigns should be launched and the EFP can also play a big role in supporting the national societies in doing so,” says Katrein Vermylen (president, Belgian Society of Periodontology), while Prof Blanco says that the EFP should “raise the awareness of the trade and lay press, in order to disseminate periodontal knowledge to the general public.”

The successful European Day of Periodontology on May 12 is highlighted by Dr Reners as a “good example of innovation and a communications tool to reach the public” and she adds that the EFP needs to “improve communication via social media.”

France Lambert urges the EFP to “keep going in this direction and to build a strong European and international network using modern communication tools.”

For Prof Chapple, the EFP needs to “engage better with general practitioners and specialists in their host countries. This has started with JCP Digests and needs to grow with the planned Perio Digests, along with Perio Insight and the excellent EFP News. Our public engagement can continue to grow and develop.”

The EFP secretary general adds that “we must continue to consolidate and freshen our core strengths – EuroPerio, the Perio Workshop, and the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.”

The next 25 years?

As this series of articles has shown, the EFP has achieved a great deal over its first 25 years and there is much to be proud of.

To have created the world’s biggest perio congress, a sector-leading scientific journal, and the highly influential Perio Workshop is something which has been created by the vision and hard work of many people.

It is clear that there is no shortage of enthusiasm or ideas about how to take the EFP forward into the next stage of its life. And there are plenty of talented people within the federation willing to do the work. We can look forward with confidence to the next 25 years!