21 November 2019

Dental organisations unite to stop antimicrobial resistance

The Association of Dental Hospitals has joined forces with other national dental organisations to back World Antibiotic Awareness Week, uniting the profession in support of the careful use of antibiotics.

We have joined with the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK, the Association of Clinical Oral Microbiologists, the British Association of Oral Surgeons and the dental sub-group of the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group to celebrate the successful reduction of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions while recognising that much more progress can made. The organisations are firm in our mission to mitigate and prevent antibiotic resistance, and to urge dentists to keep antibiotics working by ensuring that every prescription is justified according to clinical need and national guidelines.

We welcome a steady reduction in the number of antibiotic prescriptions issued in NHS primary dental care since 2011, including a 9% reduction over the last year. However, antibiotic-resistant infections are expected to increase markedly over the next 20 years due to over-prescribing. This could lead to even simple surgical procedures becoming high-risk due to the potential for post-surgical infection with resistant micro-organisms. Dentistry accounts for 5-7% of NHS antibiotic prescriptions.

Along with our allied organisations, we encourage dentists to update their knowledge by participating in a national survey of antibiotic prescribing, and take the antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) e-learning modules. Both of these provide free verifiable CPD. A free dental AMS toolkit endorsed by our organisations provides patient information highlighting that antibiotics do not cure toothache, advice for dentists on the use of analgesics, and an antimicrobial prescribing self-audit tool. The profession is also encouraged to take the dental pledges at, and to use the hashtags #AntibioticGuardian and #KeepAntibioticsWorking on social media.