COPENHAGEN, Denmark: In a recent study, researchers sought to examine periodontal care behaviors among dental patients in Denmark. Additionally, the researchers sought to assess the economic burden of periodontal care in the country. The study found that a large portion of the population do not visit the dentist regularly and subsequently suffer from various forms of periodontitis which, when left untreated, result in additional costs to the healthcare system. of the country and can lead to the development of other health conditions.
“My area of research is epidemiology and health services research, so when Christian asked if we could investigate the use of dental services for patients with periodontitis, it fit well with my area of work” , co-author Dr. Kasper Rosing, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Odontology at the University of Copenhagen, told Dental Tribune International (DTI).
“Periodontal treatment has been reported to significantly improve glycemic control in diabetic patients as well as lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension. Providing periodontal treatment will thus improve the quality of life for a wide range of patients and reduce long-term societal healthcare costs related to periodontitis and its comorbidities,” added co-author Dr. Christian Damgaard. , associate professor in the Department of Odontology.
In the study, researchers mapped the number of dental visits between 2012 and 2016 in the Danish adult population and looked at how many people received treatment for periodontitis. They found that around two million adult Danes, or 40% of the adult population, do not see the dentist every year and can suffer from varying degrees and stages of periodontitis. In addition, they reported that total expenditure for periodontal care in Denmark increased by 13% over the period, from 78 million euros to 88 million euros.
“Too few of us receive treatment for periodontitis. We have found that around 12-14% of the Danish population are treated for this disease, and this is far from the number of Danes we estimate to have the disease,” he added.
Discussing the results, the researchers said they were surprised at the scarcity of periodontal surgery performed in the country and also surprised that the number of periodontal surgery services provided had decreased over the five years under study. According to Dr. Damgaard, this indicates that there is a need for international societies of periodontology to convince the Danish health authority to recognize periodontics as a specialty in Denmark.
However, the researchers noted that Denmark is not the only country where the population suffers from periodontal disease, and the prevalence of periodontitis is even higher in other countries. In the United States, for example, 46% of the population suffers from periodontitis, and studies in Norway, Sweden and Germany show similar numbers, researchers say.
Early identification and prevention
To help combat the deterioration of the oral health of the Danish population, prevention is essential. This is why the early detection of periodontitis should not be neglected. Commenting on the matter, Dr Damgaard explained: “It is a problem when periodontitis is not diagnosed and treated in time, because untreated periodontitis will lead to widespread infection and accelerated loss of the bone in which the teeth are rooted as well as spreading. from bacteria and dental pocket infections to blood.
When left untreated for an extended period, periodontitis can lead to other diseases and lead to additional costs in other parts of the healthcare system, Dr. Damgaard noted. For example, DTI recently reported on a study that found a link between periodontitis and Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“It’s time to take periodontitis seriously and emphasize the importance of periodontal treatment”
— Dr. Christian Damgaard, University of Copenhagen
In light of the findings, the researchers suggested that more research is needed to examine the outcomes of periodontal therapy in daily practice to assess the effectiveness of existing periodontal care systems as well as to identify both the barriers and facilitators to attending dental care in the country.
Periodontal care and social inequalities
The study did not investigate the rationale for irregular dental visits. However, Dr Damgaard noted that Denmark ranks very well compared to other European countries for good oral health among children and young people, but that is not the case for adults and older people. . According to him, this discrepancy in oral health could be explained by treatment costs, as dental patients over the age of 18 have to pay 60% of their dental appointment and treatment costs in Denmark, and only the remaining 40% are covered by state subsidies. “Periodontal patients in Denmark have relatively large out-of-pocket expenses for periodontal care,” Dr. Rosing noted.
Additionally, Dr. Damgaard explained that social inequality in dental care is still a major problem in the country and people with higher incomes tend to visit a dentist more often. “The most marginalized citizens are also those with the biggest dental problems and those who usually don’t go to the dentist,” he commented and noted that, to solve the problem, everyone in Denmark should have equal access to dental care. and appropriate dental treatment. “It’s time to take periodontitis seriously and emphasize the importance of periodontal treatment,” he concluded.
In a similar study reported by Dental Tribune International, researchers examined the dental status and frequency of preventive dental visits of Danish adults over a 30-year period. The results indicated that Danes are now showing great improvement in their oral health behaviors. Fewer people suffer from the complete loss of their natural teeth and there is an increase in preventive dental visits. However, there are still social inequalities in dental health among the population.
The study, titled “Attendance at periodontal care in Denmark in 2012-2016 – a national register-based study», was posted on November 9, 2021 in Acta Odontologica Scandinavica.