Six national dental organisations are encouraging dentists to participate in a new survey of antibiotic prescribing in dentistry.

The Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP), the British Dental Association (BDA), the Association of Clinical Oral Microbiologists, the Association of Dental Hospitals, the British Association of Oral Surgeons and the dental sub-group of the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group all support the initiative, which aims to build an understanding of dentists’ knowledge of, and attitudes toward, the prescribing of antimicrobials.

The survey, open to all practising dentists as well as trainees and students, is available at until 31 May 2020, and participants are awarded a certificate for one hour’s CPD. The incorporated educational material covers the main national resources for antimicrobial prescribing and prophylaxis in dentistry, indications for the use of antimicrobials to manage dental infections, and key points from the NICE antimicrobial stewardship guidelines.

Antibiotic-resistant infections already cause an estimated 25,000 deaths each year in Europe, and 700,000 worldwide. Their incidence is expected to increase markedly over the next 20 years due to over-prescribing, leading to even simple surgical procedures becoming high-risk due to the potential for post-surgical infection with resistant micro-organisms.

Since 2015, all healthcare providers in the UK have had a statutory duty to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance by ensuring appropriate use of antibiotics. While there has been a steady reduction in the number of antibiotic prescriptions issued in NHS primary dental care over recent years, the sector still accounts for around 5-7% of NHS antibiotic prescriptions, and an estimated one in six patients are prescribed antibiotics each year as part of their NHS dental treatment.

Dr Nick Palmer, a member of the BDA’s Health and Science Committee and Editor of the FGDP’s Antimicrobial Prescribing for General Dental Practitionersguidance, commented:

“Dentists have a significant role to play in keeping antibiotics working by ensuring that every prescription for antibiotics is based on clinical need and national guidelines, and by educating patients to take and dispose of antibiotics responsibly. I urge colleagues to take the prescribing survey in order to support this vital work and refresh their knowledge of this important aspect of clinical practice.”