Changing patient perspectives to
improve gum health

Colgate® invited a range of experts to attend a roundtable event to share their thoughts and insights in this important area. The invited contributors came from a range of dental backgrounds including those with a special interest or a specialism in improving gum health. The roundtable discussion themed ‘Changing patient perception to improve gum health’ was hosted by Dr Reena Wadia at her Harley Street practice and Perio School.

A group of renowned dental experts gathered for a roundtable discussion

Dr Wadia opened the discussion by sharing the latest population data showing that only 17% of adults had healthy gums1 along with the first survey from general dental practice showing 53% of patients had signs of gum problems on probing.2 This figure increased to 61% for those who had not seen a dental professional for two years or more.2 This data demonstrated the need for the group to come together to discuss how we can help to improve gum health and reduce gum problems in general dental practice. Dr Wadia went on to share some key insights from those experiencing gum problems, highlighting that patients can often experience a long journey back to gum health.3

Patients with gum problems can experience a long journey

A chart showing that a patients hum health journey is complicated

The patient journey may start with noticing gum problems, often when toothbrushing. Some will not act at this stage. As these signs of gum problems progress, patients can become more concerned about their oral health. This peak of concern may prompt them to visit their dental practice and or seek advice online or from family and friends. They may act on any advice given during the peak of concern, but they may also fall back into their old habits. This can lead to a roller coaster ride for many patients.

Dr Wadia concluded highlighting the barriers which can prevent patients acting to improve their gum health, such as lack of awareness, resignation, or misperception.3

Patients face different barriers preventing
them from acting on their gum health

Lack of awareness

A patient unaware that they shouldn't have gum problems


: A patient resigned to the fact they have gum problems and expect them to stay


: A patient looking as though they've misperceived the situation they are in

These insights led a discussion on how general dental practice could empower patients to take greater ownership of their gum health. 

  • The percentage split of responsibility was highlighted as being important in letting the patient know that it’s 80% about what they do at home and 20% about what their dentist can do for them 

  • They discussed behavioural change and motivation and that both of these depend on the patient. Some will act on advice and change their regime immediately, but others will fall back into their old habits 

  • The group then explored the false assumption that knowledge is enough to effect behaviour change in those with a lack of awareness

Round table discussion contributors (left to right):

Nick Barker – Clinical Lecturer in MSc in Periodontology and Honorary Professor School of Health and Social Care at University of Essex.

Fiona Sandom – Project Specialist at All Wales Faculty of Dental Care Professionals and Dental Therapist.

Chinwe Akuonu – General Dentist.

Pete Clarke – Consultant in Restorative Dentistry at the University of Manchester Dental Hospital and Clinical Lecturer in MSc in Periodontology at University of Manchester.

Reena Wadia – Specialist in Periodontics.

Vinay Raniga – General Dentist and Political Leadership Scholar.

Victoria Sampson – General Dentist researching the impact of oral microbiome on overall health.

Yewande Oduwole – General Dentist.

Amit Patel – Specialist in Periodontics.

The outcomes of this roundtable discussion supported the view that adherence coincides with a patients change in behaviour relating to instructions or recommendations.4 Adherence to advice or a recommendation may be a problem when products taste unpleasant or lead to side effects such as tooth staining. This means product efficacy and patient adherence can be key factors for optimal clinical outcomes.

References: 1. NHS Digital. Adult Dental Health Survey 2009, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 2. Public health England. Oral health survey of adults attending general dental practices 2018. 3. Gum Journey Europe. Quantitative survey n= 1079. men & women 18-75 years. 4. Howren M.B. (2013) Adherence. Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York. 5. Fine D, et al. (2019). (CRO-2018-05-CHX ED). 6. With continued use, vs baseline. Hu D, et al. JADA 2019:150 (4 suppl): S32-S37. 7. Data on file. Colgate-Palmolive Company, 2022. 8. Vs. CPC alone. Rösing CK, et al. Braz. Oral Res. 2017;31:e47. 9. Vs a competitive mouthrinse with essential oils in an alcohol-free base. Langa GPJ, et al. JADA2021:152(2): 105-114. 10. Data on file. Colgate-Palmolive Company, 2022.

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