Dental leaders join forces to keep antibiotics working

News Published: 
11 November 2016

Organisations from across dentistry and other health sectors have come together to ask oral health professionals to support European Antibiotic Awareness Day and World Antibiotic Awareness Week by joining a social media ‘Thunderclap’ organised by FGDP(UK).

The Faculty, together with the British Dental Association, the Association of Clinical Oral Microbiologists, Public Health England, the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and the Antibiotic Action initiative, is asking members to sign up at the Antibiotic Prescribing Pledge webpage and commit to help keep antibiotics working by auditing their management of oral and dental infections. The site will then post a message of support on your Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr profile(s) to help raise awareness among fellow professionals and the general public.

Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem that leads to antibiotics no longer being effective in treating even simple infections, with serious consequences for everyone, but particularly those undergoing major surgery, chemotherapy, organ or stem cell transplants. Every year, 25,000 people across Europe and 700,000 worldwide die from antibiotic-resistant infections, and the government predicts the annual global toll could be 10 million by 2050 – more than all deaths from cancer.

In the UK, dentists account for 9% of antibiotics prescribed in community healthcare. Auditing the management of dental infections can help reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed inappropriately - such as in response to patient demand, or in the absence of systemic signs of infection - and the FGDP(UK) publishes free online guidance to help dentists decide when they are required. A new self-audit tool for General Dental Practitioners, developed with Public Health England, will also soon be available on the FGDP(UK) and BDA websites.

Dentists can help their patients understand that for dental pain, dental care is usually a more effective treatment than antibiotics, and that when antibiotics are prescribed, taking and disposing of them responsibly can help fight the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections.

FGDP(UK) Dean, Dr Mick Horton, said, “Spreading the word about antimicrobial resistance will help save lives, maybe even your own or that of someone close to you. Please take a minute to help keep antibiotics working by joining our Thunderclap.”

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: “Effective antimicrobial stewardship is the best way to meet this clear and present danger to public health. We all need to play our part, and you can start by getting this vital message out.”

Dr Sandra White, Director of Dental Public Health at Public Health England, added: “The Antibiotic Guardian campaign is co-ordinating our World-leading efforts to help the public and healthcare professionals ensure antibiotics are prescribed only when necessary, and taken and disposed of responsibly. Primary care dentists in the UK prescribe 3.7 million courses of antibiotics every year, and we are delighted to be working with the FGDP(UK), the BDA and other leading organisations to help them play their part in tackling antimicrobial resistance.”

Dr Noha Seoudi, representing ACOM, said: “The expertise of clinical oral microbiologists is essential to guide antimicrobial stewardship decisions based on evidence from both clinical trials and antimicrobial resistance patterns. Every dental school should have access to one.”

FGDP(UK)’s guidelines, Antimicrobial Prescribing for General Dental Practitioners, are also available in book form.

We also encourage dentists, other healthcare professionals, educators and members of the public to sign up as Antibiotic Guardians.