Dental Tribune Europe

Gum Health Day 2021 takes aim at gingival diseases and COVID-19

By Jeremy Booth, Dental Tribune International
May 12, 2021

BRUSSELS, Belgium: “Gum diseases are preventable”, the slogan for Gum Health Day 2021, will seem obvious to oral health professionals; however, the annual worldwide oral health initiative aims to educate the public about the nature of diseases that affect the gingivae and how to detect and prevent them. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers say that this year it is more important than ever to get the message across to the public.

On 12 May, more than 40 countries across five continents will observe Gum Health Day, which is promoted by the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) and a long list of affiliated societies, educational institutions and dental organisations around the world.

Research has linked gingival diseases to severe problems in the oral cavity and also to major systemic health problems such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease. The fact that gum diseases such as gingivitis are often painless, and can, therefore, go unnoticed, means that maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups can contribute to better overall health.

This year’s campaign draws on the popularity and accessibility of social media with a series of clickable, sharable images and short, animated videos. Aiming to effectively raise awareness about the detection and prevention of gingival diseases, the images and videos draw attention to some of their more common, easily recognisable and visceral symptoms, including halitosis and loose teeth. One of the leading behaviours that can lead to gingival disease also features in the 2021 campaign—tobacco consumption.

Prof. Henrik Dommisch, co-ordinator of Gum Health Day 2021, stated in the press release: “Gum Health Day 2021 aims to remind people that gum health is a key factor for health and well-being even if, unfortunately, it’s still sometimes overlooked.”

Dommisch explained that millions of adults around the world suffer from gingival diseases that can be effectively prevented and treated. “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, periodontist, or hygienist,” he said.

Gum Health Day was first observed in Europe on 12 May 2017, and has typically featured a number of social initiatives that were designed to increase public awareness of periodontal disease. Owing to the pandemic, the organisers took a digital approach to the campaign for Gum Health Day 2020.

On 12 May, the EFP will hold a Gum Health Day 2021 Perio Talks live session on its Instagram page (@perioeurope). Taking place at 19.00 CET, the Instagram Live session will be open to all of those who are interested in exchanging ideas and experiences related to the topic and will be led by Dommisch.

Prof. Lior Shapira, EFP president, commented: “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.”

“New associations between gum disease and COVID-19 are now being identified,” Shapira continued, pointing to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, which found that the dental biofilm of symptomatic COVID-19 patients can harbour SARS-CoV-2 ribonucleic acid molecules of SARS-CoV-2. “[This] might act as a potential reservoir with an essential role in the transmission of COVID-19. 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,” he said.

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