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A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH IN DENTISTRY: WHEN 1+1 IS 3

Collaborators

30 Oct 2017

A multidisciplinary approach, both in periodontics and in other dental disciplines, involves tackling dental problems with comprehensive treatment plans that solve patients' problems and expectations, subsequently leading to consistent long-term results. 

As Dr. Antonio Bujaldón, Vice-President of the Spanish Society of Periodontics and Osseointegration (SEPA) points out, “the greatest beneficiary of a multidisciplinary approach is the patient.” In his view, the fact that “dental specialists work in a coherent, coordinated way, and most likely simultaneously, will favour the achievement of satisfactory results, reducing complications and the number of visits.” In short, it “makes for a comprehensive approach to patients’ health, addressing their needs from a holistic point of view,” says Dr. Indalecio Segura Garrido, president of the College of Dentists of Almeria. 

WHAT, WITH WHOM AND TO WHOM? 

The basis of any multidisciplinary treatment is its proper planning. According to Dr. Antonio Bujaldón, “this is how the patient can benefit, since we can thus set the achievement of an optimum state of oral health as the final goal, along with proper function and an ideal aesthetic outcome.” Complementing this idea, Dr. Indalecio Segura indicates that “this approach guarantees an overall vision of the patient's health problems, away from the magnifying glass through which specialists sometimes see things.” 

Any professional in dentistry and medicine may be involved in these multidisciplinary treatments: periodontists, orthodontists, rehabilitation therapists, prosthetics experts, hygienists, etc., coordinating their knowledge to the benefit of the patient. According to Dr. Indalecio Segura, “the approach is simple, provided that the premise is to make a comprehensive treatment plan that clearly sets the line to follow, taking into account all the steps that must be taken at all times.” Undoubtedly, as summed up by the president of the College of Dentists of Almeria, “the crucial part is the accurate and comprehensive diagnosis of the patient's general and oral health.” 

This multidisciplinary approach is gradually spreading to a broader number of dental specialities, and collaboration in orthodontic treatment and prosthetic rehabilitation, either with implants or tooth-supported prostheses, is becoming more common. These usually require the work of several disciplines at once. In general, the greater or lesser complexity of the treatment will lead to the participation of a greater or lesser number of specialists. 

SPAIN, AT THE FOREFRONT 

The idea of a multidisciplinary approach to face the challenges posed by dentistry has been fully taken on board in Spain. As the SEPA vice president says, “This country is experiencing a glorious moment in its commitment to quality dentistry, as evidenced by the chairmanship of Dr. Juan Blanco, of the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) and by the chairmanship of Dr. Alberto Sicilia, of the European Association of Osseointegration (EAO).” Undoubtedly, states Dr. Antonio Bujaldón, “both are examples of this type of approach, applying multidisciplinary dentistry based on scientific evidence and high clinical qualification, with flawlessly structured teams, to afford patients the best results.” 

SEPA is also making an effort along the same lines, by promoting a multidisciplinary approach in the management of periodontal diseases. Thus, as its vice president acknowledges, “in the most recent meetings, the focus has been on the collaboration between different branches of dentistry, emphasising the idea of seeing oral health from a team perspective.” 

Furthermore, the foundations are being laid for extending this team vision and multidisciplinary approach to other medical specialities, particularly due to the growing evidence of the systemic nature of periodontal disease. 

According to Dr. Antonio Bujaldón, “this is not only advisable, but rather it is clearly necessary, especially since there is increasing evidence that oral disease has repercussions on other medical conditions and vice versa.” In this regard, Dr. Indalecio Segura stresses the importance for “dentists and doctors of any speciality to understand this concept and to work together: this is a critical factor to achieve patients' long-term health stability.” 

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