A periodontist is a dentist, differentiated in treatment of problems of the tissues supporting the teeth, like the gums, the alveolar bone and the periodontal ligament, holding the teeth in place. Mark Timmerman has been working as a dentist since 1984 and as a periodontist since 2000, thus building extensive clinical experience. With his appointment as a professor, he aims to give periodontology the attention it deserves, especially in the academic world.
The main focus of the appointment is education, in which Timmerman has played an important role for decades. ‘Currently, the three centers in the Netherlands in Amsterdam, Groningen and Nijmegen offer education in the field of periodontology within their programs of dentistry. I would like to harmonize that education better between the centers’, Timmerman says. ‘In addition, periodontology should also become more firmly embedded in the basic dental education. In Nijmegen, we are therefore setting up an expertise group in cooperation with the HAN's program in dental hygiene, providing teachers with more knowledge in this field.’
Currently, the postgraduate training in Periodontology consists of a three-year full-time program at ACTA in Amsterdam. ‘That requires a considerable investment of time and money. We see many foreigners taking this program, but they often go back to their country of origin afterwards, taking their expertise with them’, Timmerman explains. ‘It would be good if we could make the program more accessible in terms of its structure. Meanwhile, within Dentistry Nijmegen we are working on a two-year program for deepening and broadening in several dental fields, which dentists can follow alongside their practice. We are thus focusing on a different target group. Hopefully, we can eventually develop a full size training program in Periodontoloy from there, receiving full recognition by the European Federation of Periodontology.’
Timmerman also conducts research. ‘We showed that taking omega-3 fatty acids greatly improves the outcome of treating inflamed gums. We are also doing similar research on vitamins D and B.’ When inflammation of the tissues surrounding an implant occurs, Timmerman investigated an attractive strategy: unscrew the crown or bridge from the implants and clean it outside the mouth, thereby cleaning the implant in the mouth with good visibility and access. When the crown or bridge is replaced after a few weeks, the tissue is usually found to have healed properly. Furthermore, he and colleagues study the relationship between inflammation in the mouth and elsewhere in the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The impetus for research usually comes directly from practice. Timmerman: ‘Sometimes we see that a certain strategy works well in patients, but it takes a lot of time to scientifically substantiate its value.’ An example is the treatment of small wounds at the corners of the mouth that occur in people with dentures. ‘The standard treatment is an antifungal agent. But we saw that in almost seventy percent of these wounds the culprit is not fungus, but an intestinal bacterium. A drug against bacteria, such as a gel with chlorhexidine, works much better. We are now collecting data for a publication.’
Mark Timmerman (Amsterdam, 1961) graduated cum laude in Dentistry from the University of Amsterdam in 1984. There he obtained his doctorate in 2001 for his dissertation entitled: 'Prevalence and progression of untreated periodontal disease in a young Indonesian population'. He worked in a general practice and later as a periodontist and implantologist at several centers, including since 2008 at the Praktijk voor Parodontologie en Implantologie Nijmegen / Horst. In addition, he has been working as a lecturer in Implantology and Periodontology at Radboudumc Dentistry since 2017 and has been chairman of the Dentistry Examination Committee since 2021. The appointment is effective December 1, 2022, for three years.
About the NVvP
The NVvP is an active, professional and scientific organization for dental care providers such as dentists, dental hygienists, periodontists and implantologists. The purpose of the association is to share knowledge about periodontal and peri-implant care. In addition to scientific professional information for members, the NVvP also provides general information for the public about gums and how they contribute to overall health. The NVvP contributes financially and professionally to this chair.