Effective periodontal care in general dental practice: Major challenges, scientific updates & perspectives
Oral/periodontal health is everyone’s invaluable asset and unique brand, and yet deeply integrated into people’s quality of life and overall wellbeing. Currently, periodontal disease remains the major burden of global oral health, and exerts far-reaching socio-economic impacts with huge healthcare costs worldwide. Periodontal disease is the most common disease in mankind (Guinness World Records (2001). The Global Burden of Diseases Study (2010) shows that severe periodontitis is the 6th most prevalent one among all 291 diseases investigated. Surprisingly, the overall global burden of periodontal disease has increased markedly by 57% since 1990. Clinically, severe periodontitis is the main cause of multiple tooth loss and edentulism in adults, especially in the susceptible individuals. This complex disease is also closely interconnected with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, through infection, inflammation, dysbiosis and shared risk factors (e.g. tobacco usage). Currently, the major challenge facing dental professionals is the low awareness of oral/periodontal health, partly due to the ‘silent’ nature of periodontal disease and neglect of oral/periodontal health in national health policy. Patients often merely seek treatments for the outcomes of periodontitis, not essentially for prevention and control of the ‘roots’ of their problems. As such, proactive prevention through appropriate oral/periodontal literacy is the key for tackling this global epidemic. Indeed, periodontal care is a fundamental component of general practice. It is of great importance for undertaking effective communication with patients, formulating an individualized and comprehensive treatment plan, and delivering effective care. The past two decades saw great advancements in periodontal science and care strategies, providing exciting opportunities to better prevent, diagnose and manage periodontal disease. This lecture highlights major advances in clinical periodontology and addresses the key issues on successful management of periodontal patients through proactive healthcare and multi-disciplinary teamwork for optimal oral health, general health and healthy aging.