Purpose: To study the practices of general dentists, periodontists and dental hygienists who are members of the European Federation of Periodontology, regarding oral hygiene education, plaque control assessment, recommended dental and interdental hygiene tools, and antimicrobial agents.
Keywords: dental hygienist, oral hygiene, patient education as topic, periodontal diseases, periodontists, surveys and questionnaires
Materials and Methods: A web-based survey was sent to 13,622 members of the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) through its 29 national member societies. It targeted general dentists (GD), specialists in periodontology (DSP) and dental hygienists (DH). Data were collected between 24 April and 17 May 2015. A data-driven statistical analysis was conducted and differences between professions were explored.
Results: A total of 2076 answers were collected. Only the 2009 answers originating from GD, DSP and DH were analysed (67 answers originated from other professions and were excluded). Among those 2009 respondents, 43.2% were DSP and 37.2% were GD. Overall, DH, DSP and GD reported spending 17.1 minutes for the initial teaching of OH, with differences between professions (p < 0.0001). DH, GD and DSP exhibited differences in the type of toothbrushes they recommend (p < 0.0001). DSP recommended electric and manual toothbrushes (TB) equally. DH predominantly recommended electric TB (56.8%). Overall, 95% of DH, DSP and GD recommended interdental brushes, with no statistically significant differences between professions. Low concentration chlorhexidine was considered the most relevant antimicrobial agent for daily oral care of periodontitis patients. Half of GD prescribed antimicrobial mouthrinses for long-term use in 70%–100% of their patients with periodontitis.
Conclusion: EFP-affiliated practitioners allocate a significant amount of time to educating patients on oral health. Their practices are mostly in line with the current scientific evidence. Some discrepancies were found between the different professions. Similar surveys could be conducted over time to monitor the evolution of practices.