Responsible prescribing for the sake of future generations

News Published: 
23 May 2019

FGDP(UK) Dean, Ian Mills, considers the steps dental practitioners can take towards responsible prescribing.

In the current digital world, as pace of life increases alongside a desire for instant gratification, we are at risk of becoming perpetually impatient. When it comes to healthcare, our patients often expect instant solutions and quick fixes. This is frequently the case when managing dental emergencies, in particular treatment of dental pain of inflammatory origin. Patients are invariably keen to avoid surgical intervention if at all possible, and dentists are often placed under considerable pressure to hand over prescriptions for antibiotics, despite their lack of efficacy.

Public Health England has committed to a campaign to raise awareness amongst the general public of the need to ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’. The statistics are increasingly shocking – antibiotic resistant bloodstream infections increased by 35% from 2013-2017.1 And in just over 30 years antibiotic resistance is predicted to kill more people worldwide than cancer and diabetes combined.1

As healthcare professionals, we are told that we are well placed to raise awareness of the need to reduce the use of antibiotics. But how easy is it to explain that to the emergency patient with a raging toothache?

Dentists issue around 5-7% of all antibiotic prescriptions in the NHS. A simple first step to reducing prescription rates may be to audit current practice including details of patients presenting with specific clinical conditions and the action in relation to prescription. A self-audit tool is available which was developed with the BDA and FGDP(UK) to support practices.

A range of additional resources are also available online including CPD from the British Association of Oral Surgeons as well as patient literature from the NHS. Outside of whether or not a patient visits us with an oral infection there is still an opportunity within waiting rooms to raise awareness of the need to keep antibiotics working. 

1.    Antibiotic Guardian Pledge. https://antibioticguardian.com/keep-antibiotics-working/