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A change of approach in dental care across Europe

Heidelberg University Hospital will be playing a key role in a new four-year project which aims to transform future dental care across Europe

The six million euros research project, funded by the European Union, aims to bring about a shift in dental care from a focus on treating teeth by extraction and fillings to more effective oral care treatments to prevent disease in the first place.

Dental treatment costs an estimated 79 billion euros a year across the EU, yet these diseases are almost entirely preventable.

Using de-identified data from millions of health records across Europe, researchers will work with dental professionals and insurers to identify effective strategies in preventing disease in each country. Providing continuous feedback to shape best practice, a set of key performance indicators will be developed that dentists and healthcare systems can measure against.
Working with dental professionals and insurers this work will measure just how effective oral health care treatments are in keeping patients healthy and happy and reducing their disease.

By continuous feedback of this information to professionals and insurers the project aims to encourage and foster a greater emphasis on prevention of disease and an improvement in services all round.

The six million euros grant, from the European Union, will see researchers from countries including Germany, The Netherlands, Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Hungary, among others, use the anonymised data from millions of health records across the continent to assess what best practice is in each country, in order to develop a set of key performance indicators that dentists and healthcare systems can measure themselves against.

The hope is that, by continually assessing the performance of dental professionals and healthcare systems, it will encourage a move to more preventive dental care.

Stefan Listl, the Principal Investigator at Heidelberg University Hospital, said: “The World Health Organization has said that dental diseases are the most common chronic disease known to Man – we want to change this. Our approach aims for a measurable improvement in oral health through a systematic focus on prevention of disease in dental practice. Our treatment services are excellent but there is scope for more prevention.”

The project will have access to eight European patient record databases and in addition to hearing the views of professionals and insurers, will also consult with patients in the participant countries to identify their preferences and gain their perspective on the dental care they receive.

The project will be led by the University of Leeds in conjunction with the Academic Center for Dentistry Amsterdam, the Heidelberg University Hospital, in collaboration with NHS England and universities and dental insurers from across Europe. Project lead Professor Helen Whelton, Dean of Leeds Dental School at the University of Leeds, said: “This is a fantastic example of collaboration between universities, the public sector and the private sector, with the aim of improving the dental health of an entire continent, and we hope this will feed in to the reform of healthcare systems globally.”

Further information

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Dr. Stefan Listl is available for interview. Contact the Heidelberg University Hospital press office on +49.6221.56-4537 or email Opens window for sending emailcontact@med.uni-heidelberg.de


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