Dental Groups Celebrate World Antibiotic Awareness Week

Dentistry Today


Dental groups in the United Kingdom are teaming up to celebrate World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2019, November 18 to November 24. While they report that they have seen a steady reduction in the number of antibiotic prescriptions issued in National Health Service (NHS) primary dental care since 2011, including a 9% reduction over the past year, they 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 postsurgical infection with resistant microorganisms, say the groups, which include 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.

With about one in six patients prescribed antibiotics each year as part of their NHS dental treatment, dentistry accounts for around 5% to 7% of NHS antibiotic prescriptions, including 60% of metronidazole prescriptions in primary care, according to the groups, who add that dentistry can do more to help keep antibiotics working by ensuring that every prescription is justified based on clinical need and national guidelines.

The groups also encourage dentists to update their knowledge by participating in a national survey of antibiotic prescribing and taking the antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) e-learning modules. Furthermore, a free dental AMS toolkit endorsed by the groups provides patient information highlighting how antibiotics do not cure toothache as well as advice for dentists on the use of analgesics and an antimicrobial prescribing self-audit tool. 

Dental professionals additionally are encouraged to take the dental pledges at and use the hashtags #AntibioticGuardian and #keepantibioticsworking on social media. Antibiotic-resistant infections cause about 25,000 deaths each year in Europe, note the groups, which are working with the French Society of Oral Surgeons to support the shared international goal of reducing inappropriate prescribing in dentistry.

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