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Prof. Darko Božić is the new president of the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP), the leading global voice in periodontics and implant dentistry, representing more than 16,000 periodontists and other oral healthcare professionals from around the world. Prof. Božić spoke with Dental Tribune International about his background, upcoming EFP activities around the world and the many reasons for regional societies to join.
Prof. Božić, can you tell us a little about your background? You have devoted a lot of time to regenerative and periodontal plastic surgery. Do you have any other specific areas of focus clinically?
I am an associate professor in the Department of Periodontology at the School of Dental Medicine of the University of Zagreb. I finished my MSc and PhD at the university, as well as the school’s postgraduate periodontics programme. Since I was a dental student, I have been interested in periodontal regeneration and particularly growth factors. Imagine taking a protein, placing it in a defect and regrowing all the periodontal tissue! This is still my dream, to be able to predictably carry out such a treatment for all our patients.
I was lucky to have one of the pioneers in bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) research in Zagreb, Prof. Slobodan Vukičević, so I did my PhD in his lab, investigating how BMPs affect cementoblasts. So, growth factors seemed to be my destiny. For the last five to six years, I’ve been focused on hyaluronic acid and its use in periodontal and bone regeneration. The results are very encouraging, and my group and I are working on several publications. We are also involved in a large multicentre trial using enamel matrix derivative in non-surgical therapy and have just finished a randomised trial using manuka honey in non-surgical periodontal treatment. We have also investigated tissue proteomics of periodontal tissue and are collaborating with my friend Prof. Nagihan Bostanci on interpreting these results. My team and I are excited about all these new developments.
Are there any advancements in the treatment of periodontal disease that you are particularly excited about?
There are plenty of research projects going on, but we will see whether they will bring the advancements we are hoping for. Since I have been working with growth factors, especially BMPs, I still believe that protein treatment is the way to go and that we have to find a way to make these potent molecules work. Apart from the promising use of hyaluronic acid I mentioned earlier, we are finding ways to minimise morbidity in our patients with the use of collagen matrices for soft-tissue reconstruction, but we should also be aware of the limitations of these materials. This is also very important, since it helps us understand when to use them and when not to, and how best to use them. Periodontics is changing rapidly, and new things pop up every week. It is an exciting time to be a researcher and a clinician in periodontics.
The EFP is organising a new conference in Asia next year. What can participants look forward to at International Perio Master Clinic 2024 in Singapore?
Based on my experience of the 2023 Perio Master Clinic, which the EFP held in March in Antwerp in Belgium, attendees will enjoy the same great experience and outstanding programme at the 2024 International Perio Master Clinic in Singapore on 19 and 20 January.
I can say, without any doubt, that the Antwerp conference was of the best meetings I have attended. It is extremely rare to see an orthodontist and a periodontist giving a lecture together on the perio–ortho relationship and treatment concepts in stages III and IV periodontitis patients.
The delegates attending our Singapore conference will see fantastic cases of how to build bone around teeth and before implant placement with orthodontic extrusion, how to predictably move teeth in these advanced cases to achieve aesthetic outcomes and how to correct soft-tissue problems in pre- or post-orthodontic treatment. Overall, it will really be a unique event that should not be missed.
Periodontics is changing rapidly, and new things pop up every week. It is an exciting time to be a researcher and a clinician in periodontics.
Several new national periodontal societies have recently joined the EFP, such as the Armenian and the Azerbaijani societies of periodontics. What are the benefits to societies of joining the EFP?
Thank you for this question because people often wonder what the benefits are of joining a big organisation such as the EFP. First, the EFP is the largest periodontics federation in the world, bringing together 38 national perio societies from six continents, and through the EFP, you can meet the best experts in the perio field who are willing to share their knowledge and experience. From these contacts, many collaborations and initiatives have been born. I can personally vouch for the value of such contacts, having profited from them and seen how they have helped other Croatian periodontists.
A second important thing is that the EFP is both a scientific and a clinical organisation, and numerous university periodontics departments in Europe and around the world teach EFP-accredited postgraduate programmes. This is a goal of many departments, including my own department. This kind of excellence in both research and in treating periodontitis patients is in the DNA of our federation. The EFP is the best place to meet the people that lead these programmes. Although the EFP requires the highest possible standards in treatment and departmental organisation, I can tell you that everyone at the federation is helpful to those seeking to meet these goals. This is what brings about further advancements in periodontics.
I am glad that you mentioned the Armenian and Azerbaijani perio societies. This year, the Armenian Periodontists Association joins the EFP as an associate member and the Azerbaijani Society of Periodontology just won the bid for the next Perio Master Clinic conference, so Perio Master Clinic 2026 will take place in Baku. The possibility of hosting these events is also a benefit of becoming a member society of the EFP. At the end of the day, this is what the EFP stands for, bringing education and the knowledge of top clinicians to the entire world. The EFP and I cannot wait to bring this event to Azerbaijan.
What else would you like our readers to know about the EFP?
I would recommend to my peers to have a look at what the EFP offers and join us. There is such a good atmosphere and wonderful personal contact when we meet at our general assemblies! It needs to be experienced first-hand. My suggestion is to start by exploring our website, www.efp.org, or by following the EFP on our social media channels.
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