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LONDON, UK: In line with general medical practices and hospitals, dental practices in the UK for the first time prescribed fewer antibiotics last year. According to a new report issued by Public Health England (PHE) as part of the English surveillance programme for antimicrobial utilisation and resistance (ESPAUR), dentists gave out approximately 7 per cent less of the two most prescribed antibiotics, amoxicillin and metronidazole, in 2015 than in 2014.
Across all health sectors, 2.2 million fewer antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed in the community last year. The overall consumption of antibiotics in 2015 was 21.8 defined daily dose per 1,000 inhabitants per day, a 4.3 per cent decrease from the 22.9 DDD recorded by PHE in the previous year, the report states.
Dentists are currently responsible for 5 per cent of antibiotic prescriptions, with the overall majority given out by general medical practitioners and hospitals.
The figures are relevant in view of the roll-out of a new dental toolkit developed by the dental subgroup of ESPAUR in collaboration with the Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP) and the British Dental Association (BDA). It includes an easy self-audit tool and patient-facing posters and leaflets to support effective antimicrobial stewardship in dentistry.
“Dentists have a vital role to play in keeping antibiotics working. Audit helps us fulfil our professional responsibility only to prescribe antibiotics when it is appropriate to do so, and the new tool is an easy way to measure our practice against clinical guidance, and identify, implement and sustain any changes we need to put in place,” FGDP Dean Dr Mick Horton said.
Dentists are able to download the free toolkit from both the BDA and FGDP websites.
Despite the drop in prescriptions, resistance to antibiotics is further on the rise across all sectors in the UK. The proportion of bloodstream infections resistant to piperacillin/tazobactam, the most frequently used combination antibiotic for the treatment of sepsis, for example, has increased by almost 50 per cent over the last four years.
The government has vowed to reduce inappropriate prescribing by 50 per cent by 2020 to tackle the problem.