Studying the importance of oral health

Pedagogical issues, in both dental education and dental care, are along with patients’ experiences of periodontitis two main themes in Annsofi Johannsen’s research. She is also head of KI’s dental hygiene programme.

Annsofi Johannsen
Annsofi Johannsen is Professor of Oral Health and Disease. Photo: Ulf Sirborn.

What are you researching? 

“My research concerns different aspects of dental health and diseases such as periodontitis and peri-implantitis, which is to say tooth-loss and inflammation around dental implants. I also work a lot with education and pedagogical research. Education needs to stand upon an evidence-based foundation, even when it comes to our own methods.” 

What does your research entail? 

“For my thesis, I explored how stress and depression affect inflammation of the gums. I’ve also studied the effect of other factors, such as smoking. In the past few years, my research has largely concentrated on patient experiences, mainly in qualitative studies. Suffering from periodontitis, for instance, and losing the teeth is a cause of much mental distress for many people. Their experiences need to be described scientifically and incorporated into the design of dental care. 

My research on clinical methods also relates to the patient experience – I’m researching how to implement better patient dialogue on dental health. Put simply, it doesn’t help to give the patient solid facts and advice on dental care if they’re not motivated to follow it. So it’s equally important to motivate as well as inform, and even though there are good methods for such conversations these days, it’s still difficult to introduce them in practice. Caregivers and patients object to putting time and resources into such dialogue, as they don’t see it as being of equal value to other dental hygiene intervention.” 

Tell us about your work with education. 

“I was made director of the dental hygiene programme in 2010. One milestone for me was when we launched the new three-year programme in 2019. The first intake graduated in June 2022! An important issue for me going forward is to continue developing the interprofessional collaboration between dental hygienists and other care professionals in terms of both first and second-cycle education.” 

Text: Anders Nilsson, in translation from Swedish
First published in the booklet ‘From Cell to Society 2022’

About Annsofi Johannsen 

Professor of Oral Health and Disease at the Department of Dental Medicine 

Annsofi Johannsen was born in Hagfors in 1957. She studied dental hygiene at the former School of Health Science, Stockholm, graduating in 1984. She also graduated with a master’s degree in healthcare education from the Stockholm Institute of Education in 1998. Johannsen has been active at the Department of Dental Medicine since 1998, initially as a teacher and then as researcher and manager. She earned her PhD in 2006, was made docent in 2013 and in 2014 was voted onto KI’s Pedagogical Academy. She has been director of the dental hygiene programme since 2010. 

Annsofi Johannsen was appointed Professor of Oral Health and Disease at Karolinska Institutet on 1 August 2021.