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prevention International magazine for oral health No. 1, 2018

| special: dental hygiene in Belgium Supposing that patients go to their GDP on a yearly basis, supragingival scaling and scaling of shallow pockets is stan- dard procedure. The Dutch Periodon- tal Screening Index is a perfect tool to screen patients for periodontal disease and treatment needs, but this index is unfortunately not yet applied widely enough, even though it is reimbursed. If a GDP remarks that the gingivae bleed easily or if the patient complains about periodontal infection, then the periodon- tal probe is used and the patient will even- tually be referred to a periodontist. UC Leuven-Limburg and Artevelde Uni- versity College (in Ghent) are offering a new professional bachelor’s degree programme in dental hygiene. Is that a breakthrough? It certainly is. It is a pity that this programme is not yet offered in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Let’s hope they will follow with us as soon as possible to ensure the levelling of our nation’s dental care. Since Leuven and Ghent are the only Flemish universities where the dental graduate curriculum can be followed, it is logical that den- tal hygienists will be trained at those same universities, and that both professional groups will start to work together at chairside from trainee level onwards. When looking at your Dutch neighbours, what do you think should be replicated in Belgium? In the Netherlands, they have more than 50 years of experience with dental hygienists. This profession is well represented and has a strong, hardworking and lobbying society. We in Belgium have always respected and ad- mired the pioneering way of organising dental care in the Netherlands. Although tough discussions have had to be conducted, they have always reached a consensus. To- day in the Netherlands, up to ten different levels of dental professionals are distinguished, from specialists to dental assistants. I don’t think we will ever see this development in Belgium. The advantage of us being behind is that we can copy the best things that have proven to be solid and to work, and delay the more complex or risky things until we see how it works out there. I hope that dental hygienists will integrate easily into the dental workplace and that their future will be as bright as it is in the Netherlands. Finally, where do you see the future of Belgian den- tistry? When I graduated in 1986 as a periodontist I had two dreams, the first of which was the official recognition of our diploma as a specialist in periodontology and oral implantology. This dream was only fulfilled in 2003. My second dream was that dental hygienists would be legalised to work in Bel- gium, and as you know, this will also become true from 2019 onwards. So, the future is bright. I fortunately did not mention how long it would take before my dreams would be fulfilled! Looking back to ten years ago, taking digital impressions with oral scanners was still a utopia; there were no navi- gation systems available for implant therapy, and we did not yet have these composites with hydroxyapatite nano- particles. Dentistry has evolved in such a rapid way that the future is today. However, in my opinion, the evolving trend towards cos- metic dentistry is almost alarming. There is nothing wrong with the high demand for aesthetic dental treatments be- cause it has been proven that these patients show more compliance in cleaning their teeth, but there is a tendency towards the belief that appearance is more important than function. Many patients prefer whitening their front teeth to periodontal treatment to save natural teeth. While they ar- gue about periodontal therapy not being reimbursed by the healthcare system, this point is not raised when they seek aesthetic dental care. Another rather regrettable observation is the fact that stock-market-listed companies invest in dental clinics and hire dentists as employees. Of course, this is a sign of the times. Being the manager of a group clinic today has turned into a full-time job that has almost nothing to do with dentistry. Let’s hope that the financial management of these clinics is not more important than the patients and that the dentists working in the system still feel the same responsibility towards their patients. Thank you very much for the interview. 46 prevention 1 2018

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