12 February 2018

Gernot Wimmer: “The EFP as global benchmark in periodontology is working well with our partners and our national societies”

Categories: EuroPerio, Institutional

Gernot Wimmer: “The EFP as global benchmark in periodontology is working well with our partners and our national societies”

As his year as EFP president draws to a close, Gernot Wimmer looks back on a busy period, during which the federation has launched projects with its partners, consolidated European Gum Health Day as a key annual event across Europe, and continued its global expansion. He explains his vision of the EFP and looks ahead to the EuroPerio9 congress in Amsterdam, which he has helped to prepare as treasurer of the organising committee.

When Gernot Wimmer became president of the European Federation of Periodontology at the general assembly in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) in April 2017, he outlined three very clear priorities:

  1. To build on the legacy of his predecessors Søren Jepsen (2015-16) and Juan Blanco (2016-17) in establishing the EFP as "the global benchmark in periodontal science and practice."
  2. To put periodontology “high on the agenda” with dental practitioners, other health practitioners, and public-health authorities in relation to the links between periodontal health and general/systemic health.
  3. To help EFP-affiliated national societies raise awareness and disseminate relevant scientific knowledge in their own countries.

Looking back on the months that have followed, Prof Wimmer makes a positive assessment of progress in these areas.

“One good example of our progress – which relates to all three of these priorities – is the launch of projects with our EFP partners,” he highlights. “In September, we launched the Oral Health and Pregnancy project in partnership with Oral-B. And this is now moving to its second stage where the national societies – at least 18 of them – will be working at the national level to disseminate the key messages to dentists, other health professionals, and women."

In January, a second project was launched with partner Colgate – Perio & Caries, which provides educational material aimed at various groups based on the outcomes of Perio Workshop 2016, which the EFP held in partnership with the European Organisation for Caries Research (ORCA).

And more projects are on the way.  There will be an initiative about periodontal health and diabetes (in partnership with Sunstar), based on the findings of the Perio-Diabetes Workshop held by the EFP in collaboration with the International Diabetes Federation a year ago. The proceedings of this important and groundbreaking  interdisciplinary workshop were published in the February 2018 edition of the official EFP scientific publication the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Further ahead, the EFP is talking to the World Heart Federation and Dentaid about a project on boosting awareness about the increasing association between atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases and periodontal diseases.

In time, it is hoped to launch educational and outreach projects with all seven partners – including Geistlich Pharma and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which became partners at the start of the year.

“These projects are a great example of how the EFP can work at the same time with its partners and with its national-society members to the wider benefit of patients and society at large,” says the EFP president.

‘One outstanding conference every year’

For Prof Wimmer, establishing the EFP as “the global benchmark in periodontal science and practice” is a fundamental objective, embodied in the four-year strategic plan that was approved at the Santiago general assembly.

In his view, the last two EuroPerio congresses – in Vienna in 2012 and London in 2015 – have shown that the EFP is achieving this aim, with participants coming from more than 100 countries from all over the world. As a result, the triennial congress can genuinely be called “the most important meeting in periodontology and implant dentistry.”

Now the EFP is working on the next step. Having first established the Perio Master Clinic – in Paris in 2014 and in Malta in 2017, with the next one to be held in Dublin in 2020 – it is now organising spin-off versions of this event for clinicians outside of Europe.

“We will start in collaboration with the Hong Kong Society of Periodontology, with the EFP Perio MasterClinic 2019 in Hong Kong, on March 1-2, 2019. Thematically, it will follow the previous European master clinic.

“In the future, the EFP will thus have an outstanding conference every year: EuroPerio, the EFP Perio Master Clinic in Europe, and an EFP Perio Master Clinic outside of Europe.”

Highlights of presidency

For Prof Wimmer, “one of the most impressive events” of the last year was the World Workshop on the Classification of Periodontal and Peri-implant Diseases and Conditions, jointly organised by the AAP and the EFP in Chicago in November 2017.

As he explains: “The goals of this landmark workshop were to capture current evidence of periodontal diseases, determine case definitions and diagnostic considerations, update the current disease classification, create consensus statements, identify priorities for future research, and publish and disseminate papers that strengthen the body of knowledge of periodontal disease and implant disease diagnosis.

More than 100 experts from over the world were invited and worked on this new forward-looking system in an atmosphere that the EFP president describes as “challenging but full of academic companionship.”

The outcomes are due to be published in the spring in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology and then officially presented at EuroPerio9 during a session on June 22.

Evolution of European Gum Health Day

One of the highlights of the last year was the hugely successful European Gum Health Day 2017, in which 27 of the EFP member societies participated, taking messages about periodontal health to millions of people.

“In nearly all European countries our member societies organised individual activities,” he notes. “For example, the Austrian Society of Periodontology, together with the Austrian dental chamber, organised a media conference where I was able to present our ‘green paper’, The impact of the global burden of periodontal diseases on health, nutrition and wellbeing of mankind: A call for global action.”

Plans are now well under way for this year’s periodontal-health awareness day on May 12 – under the slogan “Health starts with healthy gums” – and in which activities will be also take place in Latin America, thanks to an agreement with the Federación IberoPanamericana de Periodoncia (FIPP).

As another example of global collaboration, there will be a session involving the Japanese Society of Periodontology at EuroPerio9.  At the 60th anniversary meeting of Japanese perio society, held in Kyoto in December, Prof Wimmer gave a lecture about the EFP and closer collaboration.

The EFP was also invited to last October’s annual meeting in Teheran of the Iranian Academy of Periodontology, which is also interested in a deeper collaboration with the EFP.

As these developments suggest, the “globalisation” of the EFP is advancing rapidly. This is a subject close to Gernot Wimmer’s heart, and he is pleased that a new form of international associate membership is being drawn up – plans are due to be presented to next month’s general assembly – to enable countries from around the world to join the EFP.

EuroPerio – from strength to strength

At the EFP general assembly in Vienna next month, Gernot Wimmer will hand over the presidency to Anton Sculean (Switzerland) – but his work for the EFP will continue in his capacity as treasurer of the EuroPerio9 organising committee.

“EuroPerio congresses are the world’s leading conferences in periodontology and implant dentistry globally,” he says. “I had the opportunity to chair EuroPerio 7 in Vienna (2012) and would not have missed this experience. It is a huge challenge and great opportunity to work on the federation’s most important and well-known brand.”

He observes that a successful congress “guarantees the leading role of the EFP socially and also secures the EFP’s future financially together with the realisation of its projects and visions.”

The last two EuroPerios showed great support from the industry, and this has been continued with EuroPerio9, which has a total of 26 sponsors, compared with 21 at EuroPerio8 and 20 at EuroPerio7. On top of that, a total of 3,300m2 exhibition space has been sold – already 300m2 more than the final figure for EuroPerio8 in London three years ago.

“These figures make a treasurer proud as they not only reflect the great acceptance of this ‘institution’ in the world of perio and implant dentistry but also encourage us to carry on working to build upon the trust and confidence that the industry has placed in us.”

Prof Wimmer argues that his two roles – as EFP president and EuroPerio9 treasurer – do not exclude each other.  Quite the contrary, he says. “Together with my experience as a former EuroPerio chair, I find that there are a lot of synergies.  Direct negotiations and talks help persuade companies to take part and even to upgrade. The best example is Geistlich: personal talks and discussion about improving our work together in relation to EuroPerio9 has convinced the company’s board that it should become an EFP partner.”

He says that what he is most looking forward to in Amsterdam is “a positive feedback from our worldwide participants as well as our industrial partners.” But beyond that, the congress “allows the possibility of meeting a lot of friends and making new ones, celebrating social events, and – finally – the closing ceremony, which is sure to be very memorable.”

But before Amsterdam in June, there is the general assembly in Vienna. Prof Wimmer will welcome delegates from the EFP’s 30 member-societies to his home city with the message that they have “the chance to pave the way for the future triumphs of the EFP in the medium and long term.” He says that the assembly will provide everyone with the chance to have a say in “this exciting project” and that it will represent “a decisive leap forward for all of us.”

His message to everyone in the EFP family is quite simple: “Let us build the EFP of our dreams!”

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