National dental organisations are supporting World Antibiotic Awareness Week by reminding the dental profession about the importance of using antibiotics judiciously.
The Faculty of General Dental Practice UK, the Association of Clinical Oral Microbiologists, the Association of Dental Hospitals, the British Association of Oral Surgeons and the dental sub-group of the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group have all welcomed the steady reduction in the number of antibiotic prescriptions issued in NHS primary dental care since 2011 - including a 9% reduction over the last year - but say more can be done to further reduce inappropriate prescribing in dentistry.
Antibiotic-resistant infections are expected to increase markedly over the next 20 years due to over-prescribing, leading to even simple surgical procedures becoming high-risk due to the potential for post-surgical infection with resistant micro-organisms.
With an estimated one in six patients prescribed antibiotics each year as part of their NHS dental treatment, dentistry accounts for around 5-7% of NHS antibiotic prescriptions, including 60% of metronidazole prescriptions in primary care. The organisations say the profession can do more to help keep antibiotics working by ensuring that every prescription is justified according to clinical need and national guidelines.
Dentists are also encouraged to update their knowledge by participating in a national survey of antibiotic prescribing, and taking the antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) e-learning modules, both of which provide free verifiable CPD.
A free dental AMS toolkit endorsed by the organisations provides patient information highlighting that antibiotics do not cure toothache, advice for dentists on the use of analgesics, and an antimicrobial prescribing self-audit tool.
The profession is also encouraged to take the dental pledges at http://antibioticguardian.com, and to use the hashtags #AntibioticGuardian and #keepantibioticsworking on social media.
Antibiotic-resistant infections already cause an estimated 25,000 deaths each year in Europe, and the UK organisations are also collaborating with the French Society of Oral Surgeons to support the shared international goal of reducing inappropriate prescribing in dentistry.