Concern over GP antibiotic prescribing for dental problems

Over 50% of patients were prescribed an antibiotic for dental complaints, reveals an analysis of GP consultations.

Close up of teeth during a dental examination

Some patients may consult a GP for dental problems, but clinical guidelines recommend antibiotics are not prescribed without adjunct dental treatment, such as surgical intervention. 

Researchers from Cardiff University used a primary care database to characterise GP antibiotic prescribing for dental problems. 

They identified 288,169 GP dental consultations from 2004 to 2013, 57.1% of which resulted in an antibiotic prescription. The team found that patients were more likely to receive an antibiotic if they were male, aged 40–59 years, or had previously consulted the doctor for a dental problem. 

Reporting in the British Journal of General Practice (online, 30 March 2016)[1]
, the researchers say that the use of antibiotics alone is unlikely to resolve dental conditions and may contribute towards antibiotic resistance. Further research is needed to better understand the drivers of antibiotic prescribing for dental problems, they add.


[1] Cope AL, Chestnutt IG, Wood F et al. Dental consultations in UK general practice and antibiotic prescribing rates: a retrospective cohort study. British Journal of General Practice 2016. doi: 10.3399/bjgp16X684757

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, May 2016, Vol 8, No 5;8(5):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20200971

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