Dentists Prescribing Fewer Antibiotics

Dentistry Today


The British Dental Association (BDA) applauds dentists for heeding the call to reduce unnecessary and inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions at the beginning of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, November 12-18.

The latest figures published by the English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance (ESPAUR) show that dental practices dispensed around a quarter fewer prescriptions for antibiotics in 2017 compared to 2013.

A Parliament report estimated that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could kill up to 10 million per year by 2050, or more than cancer and diabetes combined. The BDA Health and Social Care Committee (HSCC), then, is urging the government to make AMR a “top 5 policy priority.”

The HSCC has called on the Prime Minister to work with her relevant ministers to raise the profile of AMR at home and internationally and for a dedicated budget to enable work in this area to make more rapid progress across all relevant departments.

Despite the 13% reduction in primary care prescriptions in the past five years, the HSCC notes that no new classes of antibiotics have been discovered for decades because pharmaceutical companies are concerned about their profitability, limiting their development. 

“As the BDA has taken a lead on addressing AMR in dentistry, issuing a consensus report in May 2015, it is gratifying that statistics back up the fact that dentists are playing their part in reducing antibiotic prescribing,” said BDA president Susie Sanderson. “However, the existential threat from AMR is so great that none of us can rest on our laurels.”

The Department of Health and Social Care Human Health AMR Stakeholder Group, which includes the BDA, is now developing a five-year strategy and a 20-year vision to address AMR in the United Kingdom.

“There is a whole range of fronts where we still need to secure progress to avoid inappropriate use of antibiotics in dentistry. Properly funded emergency treatment slots and removing the pressures that push dental patients to GPs are key to bringing down antibiotic prescribing,” said Sanderson. 

“The BDA continues to lobby for reform of the dental contract to provide adequately funded time for the treatment of dental emergencies,” Sanderson said.

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