Are Dentists Overprescribing Antibiotics?

OCTOBER 07, 2015
Gale Scott
Canadian researchers found a "troubling trend" in an increase in dentists prescribing antibiotics to patients. The team, headed by David Patrick, MD, MHSc, and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada and colleagues said the region has been working to curb overuse of these drugs out of concern about antibiotic resistance.

From 1996 to 2013, overall antibiotic use declined from defined daily doses per 1,000 person per day (DID) from 17.4 DID to 14.1 DID. But among dental surgeon it by by 62% from .98 DID to 1.59 DID. That prescribing rate increased the most for patients age 60 and over. 

The team held a webinar where dentists in Canada and the US discussed their reasons for prescribing.

Those included "unnecessary prescription for periapical abscess and irreversible pulpitis; increase in use of dental implants; slow adoption of newer guidelines regarding treatment of patients with valvular heart disease and who have had joint replacement surgery Also, they found a reduction in the "surgical skill set of the average dentist" who is now more likely to get income from cosmetic procedures.

They also suggested that patients without insurance or enough insurance are treating dental problems with antibiotics because they cannot afford the oral surgery they need.

"The above themes should be further validated," the team wrote in an abstract presented at IDWeek 2015 in San Diego, CA.

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