“Gum diseases are preventable” is the slogan for Gum Health Day 2021, a worldwide initiative on May 12 promoted by the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP). The event aims to educate the public about detecting and preventing gum diseases such as gingivitis, periodontitis, and peri-implantitis and explain why continuing to visit the dentist during the pandemic is important to overall health.
In addition to causing tooth loss and other oral problems, gum diseases are linked to major systemic health issues including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, some cancers, pregnancy complications, and erectile dysfunction, the EFP said.
Recent research also has linked gum diseases COVID-19 transmission as well as severe COVID-19 complications and outcomes, suggesting that establishing and maintaining gum and oral health may become an important part of patient care, the EFP said.
“Gum Health Day 2021 aims to remind people that gum health is a key factor for health and well-bring even if, unfortunately, it’s still sometimes overlooked,” said Henrik Dommisch, coordinator of Gum Health Day 2021.
“Gum diseases that could be effectively prevented and treated still affect hundreds of millions of adults worldwide. It’s time to take decisive action against gum diseases. We can beat them just by keeping a good oral hygiene and going regularly to visit our dentist, periodontitis, or hygienist,” said Dommisch.
The awareness initiative will be celebrated in more than 40 countries in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Australasia by EFP-affiliated societies of periodontology and by other scientific societies, dental organizations, hospitals, dental practices, universities, and companies.
Among the Gum Health Day 2021 materials that the EFP has produced are four short animated videos showing how among other factors bad breath, sensitive or loose teeth, and smoking can either trigger or be a sign of gum disease.
Most adults in developed countries are affected by gum disease at some point in their lives, the EFP said, even if they are not aware of it because gum diseases are usually painless and often go unnoticed for a time.
The EFP is inviting all members of the dental community to join this awareness day by disseminating Gum Health Day 2021 messages and materials, particularly on social media, and by signing the EFP Manifesto “Perio & General Health,” an international call to dentists and medical professionals to be more proactive in terms of the prevention, early detection, and treatment of gum disease and to acknowledge it as a major public health issue.
Besides activities organized at the national level, the EFP is holding a Gum Health Day 2021 Perio Talks live session at the EFP’s Instagram page, @perioeurope, on May 12 at 7 pm CET. It will be open to everyone and led by Dommisch with representatives from some EFP-affiliated societies.
The speakers will exchange ideas and experiences during the session and answer questions and suggestions from participants about how to educate the population to prevent and tackle the threat posed by gum diseases.
“Gum Health Day 2021 is a major EFP global initiative to get the public informed every year of the value of healthy gums as an integral part of a healthy life. Prevention of diseases is the best approach to a healthy life, and Gum Health Day 2021 will greatly get closer to our vision of periodontal health for a better life for everybody,” said Lior Shapira, EFP president.
“New associations between gum disease and COVID-19 are now being identified,” said Shapira.
“A new paper published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology has found that the dental biofilm of symptomatic coronavirus patients can harbor ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and might act as a potential reservoir with an essential role in the transmission of COVID-19,” said Shapira.
“This reveals a previously unknown and unexplored human habitat of the viral RNA and could open a door to further research in developing COVID-19 containment strategies,” Shapira said.