Prof. Nagihan Bostanci is head of Internationalisation in Dentistry and professor of Inflammation Research (Periodontics) in the Department of Dental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Together with other distinguished investigators, civil society and patient organisations, health professionals, and policymakers, she will be embarking on a new project that seeks to improve the quality of oral care through deliberative dialogue and action. In this interview with Dental Tribune International, Prof. Bostaci briefly presents the project and discusses its significance for poorer and more vulnerable populations.
Prof. Bostanci, could you please tell our readers how the idea for the DELIVER (DELiberative ImproVEment of oRal care quality) project came about?
Oral diseases are the third most expensive diseases to treat in the EU, and they affect 3.5 billion people worldwide. This is especially true for poorer and more vulnerable populations, yet these diseases are almost entirely preventable. Although there are many connections between systemic and oral health, oral healthcare is still not regarded as an integral part of primary healthcare.
What values does the project highlight, and why is it significant?
The project highlights values such as better access to affordable oral care. It aims to give more attention to effective prevention, since this can largely relieve the high burden of disease and help reduce unnecessary treatment costs.
The Horizon Europe grant programme for innovations has recently awarded the research project DELIVER five million euros in order to improve oral health. What are some of the long-term goals of the project, and what tangible steps will be taken to achieve these goals?
With successful funding from the Horizon Europe programme, the consortium will map an innovative oral healthcare model that optimises oral health and overall well-being in vulnerable populations. This will be achieved by using a more collaborative problem-solving approach.
What will your role involve?
Together with my colleagues, I will be involved in project tasks such as mapping quality indicators of oral healthcare and investigating the role of patient empowerment applications. We will be looking at how patient feedback can contribute positively to the approach of oral care professionals and how digital solutions, such as health applications, or digital companions, can encourage patients in their oral care and contribute to their overall wellness.
The project is set to have a far-reaching impact and involves partners from the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Malta, Portugal, the UK and Sweden. How will this international collaboration between higher education institutions facilitate and foster the development of the project?
Today’s research requires convergence across disciplines to develop innovative, multifaceted approaches that respond to the social, economic, technological and policy dimensions of those challenges. The DELIVER project is coordinated by Prof. Stefan Listl from Radboud University in the Netherlands and brings together excellent investigators from seven European countries in order to achieve more collaborative problem-solving. I think that having multiple perspectives really helps! It involves bouncing ideas back and forth, which stimulates creativity.
In your opinion, how could oral health be improved globally?
The change in the quality of oral care can be achieved by developing a model that promotes a preventive rather than restorative oral healthcare system for all.
Editorial note: More information about the project can be found here.