Dental Tribune USA

AAP president: Periodontist is go-to expert

By Sierra Rendon, DTA
April 14, 2017

NEW YORK, N.Y., USA: In an interview, Terrence J. Griffin, DMD, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, discusses new developments in periodontology, the upcoming events and goals of the AAP, as well as his plans for the upcoming AAP Annual Meeting, which will be held Sept. 9-12 in Boston.

Please tell us your name and dental background:
Hello, I’m Terrence J. Griffin, DMD, and I am the president of the American Academy of Periodontology. I maintain a private periodontal practice founded by Dr. Irving Glickman in 1939 right in the heart of Boston. After I completed my dental degree from Tufts University in Boston, I served in the U.S. Navy where I completed a one-year fellowship in periodontics at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. After I completed my tour of duty, I returned to Tufts as a post-doctoral fellow in periodontology and later earned my certificate of advanced studies in periodontology soon. After graduation, I joined the faculty in the department of periodontology at Tufts and, later in my career, was both chairman and director of postdoctoral periodontology for 15 years.

What has been your experience with the American Academy of Periodontology?
Serving the AAP has been a great pleasure. There is nothing like being a part of a likeminded community, united in the forward movement of the specialty with the goal of helping patients and advancing the specialty of periodontology and implant surgery. That’s what it all boils down to: making sure that our patients receive optimal care and positive outcomes. This comes from awareness, competence, and collaboration, all of which are central to the academy’s core values.

What are your specific goals for your time as AAP President?
One objective is to continue educating the public about the value of healthy gums and achieving it through regular at-home care and receiving a comprehensive periodontal evaluation every year. I also want to continue positioning the periodontist as the go-to expert in periodontal care and in the placement and maintenance of implants. With this comes the emphasis on the collaborative care model, one that includes the general dentist, the periodontist and the physician, if necessary, in the management of periodontal conditions and ailments linked to them, such as diabetes.

Another area of focus for my term is the expansion of the academy’s scientific agenda, and this year will bring some key events in this area. The first is the Best Evidence Consensus, which was held at the AAP’s Chicago headquarters in February. We welcomed 24 experts in cone-beam computed tomography and lasers, relatively new tools for which evidence is slowly emerging. The meeting adhered to a new model of evidence-based consensus and expert opinion and aided in the expansion of the periodontist’s scope of practice. Proceedings from this meeting will be available in the Journal of Periodontology this summer and will include informed suggestions on the most appropriate instances and best-suited patients for each of these clinical technologies.

In November, we’re hosting more than 100 practitioners, researchers and thought-leaders for the World Workshop on Disease Classification. Because this disease classification has not been done for nearly 20 years, the existing guidelines do not account for some of the prevalent implications of our time.peri-implant disease being one. The new disease classification will also define periodontal health.

Think about the difference this makes when a patient is in the chair and does not meet the parameters of periodontal health. This spurs the clinician to delve deeper into what the patient’s needs are and how they can be met. This workshop will provide practical, up-to-date guidance that will be published in the Journal of Periodontology in 2018.

When is this year’s AAP meeting, and what are there any highlights you can share?
This year’s AAP Annual Meeting will be held Sept. 9-12 in Boston, my hometown. We recently assembled a task force to identify ways to innovate our annual meeting, whether it’s through inviting thought-provoking speakers or showcasing new ideas in a way that inspires and creates dialogue. I hope that everyone at all stages of their careers will join us this year. On the agenda so far, we have a number of hands-on workshops, practice-management courses and sessions on topics such as oral plastic surgery, regeneration, implants and cone beam computed tomography. There’s much more to come as the event nears.

What do you see as the main new development in periodontology during the next few years?
It seems like quite regularly, researchers are uncovering more about the links between periodontal disease and other systemic conditions. We’ve known for years about the strong connection between periodontal disease and diabetes, and the evidence of the link to heart disease has strengthened as well. But now we’re learning about periodontitis’ associations with rheumatoid arthritis and atrial fibrillation in the heart. We’re even learning about links between periodontitis and lung infections for hospital patients who have been intubated. Last year, we found more evidence of periodontal disease’s link to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
All of this to say that the work that we do is about more than clearing infection, saving teeth and placing implants when necessary; we play an integral role in our patients’ overall wellbeing. This is where collaborative care is key: The medical and dental communities need to continue to be more diligent not only in working with one another, but in educating patients about the increased risk of developing other health conditions when periodontal disease is present and vice versa.

What I see happening in this arena in the next few years are broadening avenues of study that will bring us closer to understanding the origin of these links. Where do travelling microbes fit in? Inflammation? What other mechanisms are driving this? As we’re able to better grasp these mechanisms, I hope that the high science can be distilled to an applicable means for treating and managing patients for both conditions or in the prevention of the other if one is present.

What is your passion besides dentistry?
I have a great love for teaching. In addition to my long career at Tufts, I have spent many years as a visiting professor at the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” Jiao Tong University in Shanghai and King Abdulazziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I’ve lectured in more than 30 countries, and I’m leaving tonight to lecture in Athens, Greece, and Tehran later this year. Lecturing energizes me, and I love to engage my audience. One of my favorite things is to see students light up at the many new possibilities for the specialty of periodontology.


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