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Anna Maria Heikkinen: Oral Health Has an Impact on Overall Health

Published on 8.6.2023
Tampere University
Henkilökuva Anna Maria Heikkisestä
Anna Maria Heikkinen is a Professor of Oral Health Care, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Docent of Clinical Periodontology, and Dental Specialist specialized in oral health care and periodontology. Her research consists of clinical research and registry studies, which are used, among other things, to examine early diagnostics of periodontitis and its links with diabetes, for example. The health care system of services and its use are also included among Heikkinen's areas of interest.

Anna Maria Heikkinen began her career as a researcher with everyday observations made in her work as a dentist at a health centre. At the time, she wondered why the oral health of young smokers was worse than that of non-smokers. Heikkinen has continued the path she chose, as in addition to clinical research, she now examines what background and risk factors could be linked with the use of health care services. Possible examples include smoking or substance abuse, long-term illnesses, and oral diseases.

– I have always wanted to ensure that my research is beneficial to the patients and our system of services. Now that the new wellbeing services counties have been implemented, we are in sore need of information on the population's health, regarding oral health care as well. The mouth is not separate from the rest of the body and instead oral health has an impact on overall health.

Oral health care is facing new challenges due to the aging population and the shift in focus in terms of the areas where treatment is needed. For example, an increasing number of older people still have their own teeth, and it would seem that oral diseases are becoming polarized in a part of the population. Heikkinen is particularly interested in utilizing research results in practical work and the creation of improved approaches.

– I feel I have succeeded if my research results can be useful to clinics in their everyday work. I am also delighted if they provide new information to health care managers, as wellbeing services counties are increasingly managed with evidence-based approaches. I consider research essential for the improvement of the quality and effectiveness of the wellbeing services counties. I want to participate in the examination of how public and oral health can be improved through evidence-based information.

Prevention of illnesses, such as oral diseases, is a megatrend that promotes sustainable development. Through research, we can examine where investments should be made in oral health care with our limited resources. This requires assessing the state of the population's oral health in the wellbeing services counties. We also need more evidence-based to support the most effective treatment practices.

Anna Maria Heikkinen's contact information