A Reflection about the future of the Dental Profession in FDI

When, about 10 years ago, I started to attend the meetings of the FDI, I realised that the matters under discussion were essential for the practice of our profession.

Then and now the growing influence of globalisation affected dentistry, both directly and indirectly.

This influence is not necessarily good or bad, but is unquestionably crucial. Nowadays, it is not acceptable to perceive dentistry as it was perceived some years ago, when it was possible to ignore what was going on outside the confined space of our clinics and offices and when our only concern was to provide dental care to as many patients as possible.

We must be aware that professional practice is going through several changes, which are warning us of the need to get ready for the new expectations and challenges posed to dentistry by the population.

In fact, we can observe the following general trends:

a) Increasing regulation of the dental profession;

b) Patients’ deeper involvement in treatment decision making processes;

c) Growing mobility of students and of dentists ;

d) Growing influence of technology on professional practice;

e) Higher level of awareness of the population regarding the importance of oral health, particularly its aesthetic aspect, within the context of people’s general health and quality of life;

Without trying to make a thorough analysis of the current situation, these are some of the tendencies that we need to understand and put into perspective, in order to take the most suitable steps.

My view of the dental profession is focused on dentists not as mere technicians with specialised skills, but as full-fledged doctors with a specific scope – that is, mouth, teeth, jaws and adjacent structures, as clearly defined by the law –, able to see patients as whole individuals as well as to base their interventions on this holistic perspective.

Dentists must be prepared for closer cooperation and interaction with other health workers, namely in what concerns patient safety, nutrition and sedentary habits and promotion of healthy lifestyles.

The growing complexity and frequency of more invasive techniques in oral health care – from implantology to the use of biomaterials, from orthognathic surgery to roncopaty treatments, as well as the use of innovative and complex therapeutic techniques – are tremendous challenges facing not only dentists but their elected or appointed representatives (that is, all of us), the political aspects of which must be understood and addressed.

All this explodes when combined with the perspective, very fashionable and trendy, of health as business like any other!

The Right to Healthcare must continue to be a natural, fundamental right.

FDI must not be afraid of upholding this perspective!

Healthcare has to do with people. Those who do not like people and do not share this humanistic perspective will never be able to understand what being a dentist really means!

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