New toolkit lets dentists build on antibiotic prescribing success

News Published: 
18 November 2016

As new statistics reveal a fall in prescribing of antibiotics by clinicians across all NHS healthcare settings, dentists’ leaders have called on colleagues to build on this success by using a new toolkit to support effective antimicrobial stewardship.

The toolkit, which includes an easy self-audit tool and patient-facing posters and leaflets, was developed as a collaboration between the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP (UK)), the British Dental Association (BDA) and Public Health England (PHE), and builds on pioneering work from NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Local Dental Network.

With the number of people dying annually from antibiotic-resistant infections predicted to rise to 10 million by 2050, resistance to antibiotics represents one of the biggest threats to global health. Dentists issue around 9% of all antibiotic prescriptions in NHS primary care, and 5% of the NHS total, and since 2015, healthcare providers have had a statutory duty to ensure appropriate antimicrobial use to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

However, the latest report from PHE’s English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance (ESPAUR) shows that despite progress on prescribing, antibiotic resistance in the UK is still on the rise.

The free toolkit is now available to download from the FGDP(UK) website here, and the Faculty is also asking dentists to mark European Antibiotic Awareness Day by making a pledge to audit their management of dental infections.

FGDP(UK) Dean, Dr Mick Horton, said:

“Dentists have a vital role to play in keeping antibiotics working. Audit helps us fulfil our professional responsibility only to prescribe antibiotics when it is appropriate to do so, and the new tool is an easy way to measure our practice against clinical guidance, and identify, implement and sustain any changes we need to put in place. Developing this tool has been a long-standing ambition of the Faculty, and I would like to thank Dr Nick Palmer, FGDP(UK)’s AMR Lead, for his enormous contribution to this work.”

BDA Chair, Mick Armstrong, said:
“Our profession is showing real leadership in the fight against antibiotic resistance, and this new toolkit gives all dentists the chance to play their part. It contains all the tools colleagues need to track and monitor prescribing patterns, stay compliant and help patients understand when antibiotics are appropriate.”

Steven Korb, a GDP in Liverpool and chair of the Cheshire & Merseyside Local Dental Network said:

“Becoming involved with the toolkit, as well as joining in Peer Review discussion with all of the dental team has been one of the most worthwhile, enjoyable and unifying activities I have undertaken since qualifying. When now thinking of prescribing antibiotics I routinely ask myself three questions: is it really necessary, is it really necessary, is it really necessary?”