‘Huge concern’ – significant spike in the prescription of antibiotics by dentists

There has been a rise in the number of antibiotics prescribed to dental patients, a study has revealedThere has been a steep rise in the number of antibiotics prescribed to dental patients, a study has revealed. 

Data shows a 25% spike in the prescription of antibiotics by dentists in response to this year’s COVID-19 lockdown.

From late March to 8 June, dental practices across the UK closed their doors as part of the national lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

The study – published in the British Dental Journal – reveals prescription rates were highest in London. The city saw an increase of 60%.

‘Huge concern’

In comparison, the lowest spike – less than 10% – was found in the south west.

This comes as the World Dental Federation (FDI) releases a paper on antibiotic resistance to mark World Antimicrobial Awareness Week.

Antibiotic resistance (ABR) is a major threat to the state of global health. For example, if rates continue to rise, it is estimated that drug-resistant infections will be the leading cause of death globally within the next 30 years.

‘Antibiotics are life-saving drugs; when people really need them, they really need to work,’ said Dr Wendy Thompson, study author and clinical academic in primary dental care at the University of Manchester.

‘Infections that are resistant to antibiotics pose a serious risk to patient safety. This is why the large rise in dental antibiotic prescribing (over 25% from April to June) is a huge concern.’

Challenging times

She added: ‘After years of a downward trend, restricted access to dental care due to COVID-19 drove this sudden increase. We must guard against it happening again when the UK finds itself in another lockdown environment.

‘We live in especially challenging times. Patients waiting for access to care often receive more antibiotics than those patients who receive the right treatment immediately.

‘As dental care provision returns to a “new normal” in the COVID-19 era, it is important to ensure access to high-quality, urgent dental care and to optimise the use of antibiotics.’

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