CDC Offers Antibiotic Dos and Don’ts for Dentists

Dentistry Today


Antiobiotic resistance is a growing concern among physicians, with leading health agencies around the world attributing its spread to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, says that 30% to 50% of prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary or not optimally prescribed.

Also, the CDC notes that dentists prescribe about 10% of all outpatient antibiotics, even though there are few studies evaluating the appropriateness of antibiotic prescribing in dentistry and there are no national guidelines for the treatment of specific dental infections. To limit the numbers of unnecessary prescriptions, then, the CDC offers recommendations. For example:

  • Do prescribe antibiotics only for a documented diagnosis of an oral bacterial infection.
  • Do recognize that antibiotics are not always necessary.
  • Do use the most narrow-spread antibiotic for the shortest duration possible for otherwise healthy patients.
  • Do advise patients to take antibiotics exactly as directed.
  • Don’t prescribe for viral infections, fungal infections, or oral ulcerations related to trauma or aphthae.
  • Don’t prescribe in lieu of dental interventions.
  • Don’t prescribe based on demand or expectations from patients.
  • Don’t prescribe based on non-evidence-based historical practices.

Additional dos and don’ts as well as other resources are available from the CDC online.

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