Research Examines Dental Antibiotic Prescription Trends
Canadian researchers who examined antibiotics use suggest that dentists can do more to limit unnecessary prescriptions.
In light of global concerns over the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, Canadian researchers who examined antibiotics use suggest that dentists can do more to limit unnecessary prescriptions. In the study, “Antibiotic Prescribing by Dentists Has Increased: Why?” published by the Journal of the American Dental Association, the team reviewed British Columbia prescription records compiled between 1996 and 2013.
In that span, antibiotic prescriptions by physicians decreased, while the rate of dental prescriptions increased. Although the following percentages are relative to each respective category, and physicians still write a greater number of antibiotic prescriptions than dentists, the study showed an 18.2% decrease in medical antibiotic prescriptions, which was offset by a 62.2% increase in dental prescriptions. Overall, dentists’ proportionate contribution of all antibiotic prescriptions increased from 6.7% to 11.3% during the study period.
Proposed explanations include insufficient awareness of dentists’ role in efforts to curb antibiotic resistance, as well as the trend of “underinsurance” driving antibiotics use as a substitute for other forms of treatment. Also cited were an increase in dental implants and prescriptions related to implant therapy, and slow adoption of guidelines calling for less perioperative antibiotic coverage for patients with prosthetic joints or valvular heart disease.
The researchers note that larger studies are needed to further explore this trend and validate these possible explanations.