Around one in two middle-aged Austrians suffers from periodontitis, a disease that can lead to irreversible damage of the periodontium and, as a result, increase the risk of secondary complications such as diabetes or cardiovascular conditions. This will be stressed by Corinna Bruckmann of the Bernhard Gottlieb University Clinic of Dentistry at MedUni Vienna during Europerio 7, world's largest periodontology conference, which will be held from 6th to 9th June 2012 at the Vienna Exhibition Centre. Prevention is all the more important. There is now a prophylaxis centre at the dental clinic, where even more intensive preventative measures for dental health are to be carried out, including, and most importantly, prevention of periodontitis.
Some of the risk factors for inflammatory periodontitis - also known as periodontosis - are smoking, poor oral hygiene, inadequate nutrition or poorly controlled diabetes mellitus and genetic predisposition. Symptoms of periodontitis are regularly bleeding gums, a receding gum line or even loose teeth. The disease is insidious because it can progress for long periods unnoticed and pain-free. As a result, preventative check-ups are advisable.
In the new prophylaxis centre at the MedUni Department of Dentistry, periodontology is given high priority. Differentiation is made between primary and secondary prophylaxis: patients who want to take measures to prevent periodontitis and preserve the teeth and those who are already receiving periodontal therapy and require lifelong treatment in order to avoid another outbreak of the disease.
"We are dental detectives, so to speak," says Bruckmann, who heads the prophylaxis centre. "We can recognise very specific patterns and advise patients on the preventative measures they can take. Our centre is a one-stop shop for people that have a periodontal problem." And the first step is always a visit to the outpatient clinic of the University Department of Dentistry. Here a preliminary diagnosis is made using X-rays.
Alongside the plastic surgery outpatients clinic and oral microbiology, the prophylaxis centre is another new and important component of the comprehensive treatment and training system at the University Department of Dentistry. This incorporates all areas of dental medicine from periodontology through prosthodontics and dental preservation to oral surgery and orthodontics. "A visit to the prophylaxis centre is an MOT for the teeth, as it were," stresses Andreas Moritz of the Bernhard Gottlieb University Clinic of Dentistry. "We want to help patients avoid serious damage through preventative measures."