Closing Pitch

with STUART J. FROUM, DDS, American Academy of Periodontology

Love the Gums You’re With

From his days as a student at Brooklyn College, Stuart J. Froum, DDS, traced an unwavering trajectory into the dental profession, beginning with a scholarship that landed him at New York University Dental Center (NYUDC) in Manhattan. But it was during his residency at Brooklyn’s Veteran’s Administration Hospital that he discovered his true calling. “I realized that periodontics encompassed all facets of basic sciences and addressed oral health at its foundation,” he recalls. Froum eventually shaped this epiphany into a successful periodontics practice in New York, where he is also a clinical professor and director of clinical research in the Department of Periodontics and Implant Dentistry at NYUDC. In addition, he serves as president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). Froum kindly carved out time to tell us about himself, the AAP and the profession as a whole.

In light of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that half of American adults have periodontal disease, what do you consider as the main goals of periodontal therapy?

Our clinical goals include controlling and stopping the disease process in order to preserve healthy tissue; preventing disease from recurring; and improving a patient’s comfort, health, function and esthetics. Managing infection, replacing lost teeth, and regenerating gum and bone tissue are central to these efforts.

The AAP celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Congratulations! Can you briefly elaborate on the strategies the organization is implementing toward improving periodontal health in this country?

It’s an exciting time at the AAP. Following the CDC’s findings that 65 million American adults have periodontal disease, we felt it necessary to raise public awareness of periodontal disease and the role of periodontists. We launched our “Love the Gums You’re With” campaign in April, and we encourage everyone to visit perio.org/loveyourgums to find a local periodontist, take a risk assessment quiz, and learn how to love their gums and keep them healthy.

What, in your view, have been the most significant advances in the periodontal field and in the approach to treating periodontal disease?

Regeneration has shifted the landscape of periodontal treatment, enabling periodontists to grow new bone and gum tissue to replace infected tissue instead of just repairing it. Implants remain a promising option and offer advantages compared to other tooth-replacement methods, such as allowing patients to maintain bone and gum health.

Ongoing research is changing our understanding of the oralsystemic link. Can you explain the latest thinking?

The perio-systemic link is the focus of much study, and rightly so — it appears that if it’s in your mouth, it’s in your body. Oftentimes, inflammation is the culprit. Physicians, dentists and periodontists should work together to ensure the best outcomes for each patient’s unique needs. Patients can ensure their oral health through regular visits with their dentist, doctor and periodontist.

What are your top priorities as AAP president?

I hope to increase awareness of periodontal disease, and help elevate the role of my colleagues by fostering widespread awareness of just how serious it is, and how qualified periodontists are to treat it. And considering the substantiated link between periodontal disease and other serious ailments, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, periodontists are key in ensuring the systemic health of their patients.

How can dental sales professionals best help clinicians promote oral health?

Speaking for periodontists, it’s important for sales reps to be knowledgeable about the specialty and our specific needs. In a more general sense, I would say that staying current with research and treatment advances would benefit dental account executives — as would knowing the specific focus of each practitioner they serve.

What keeps you awake at night?

I generally sleep well, but I am concerned that periodontal disease — while preventable — is all too common. My hope is that the public will take the information we provide to heart, and that slowly we’ll see a decrease in the prevalence of gum disease in this country.

MENTOR June 2014;5(6):42.

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