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​MPs highlight role of dentists in the fight against antibiotic resistance

8 March 2017


In a recent Parliamentary debate on the findings of the O'Neill Review into the problem of antibiotic resistance, UK Members of Parliament highlighted the important role dentists play in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

Sir Kevin Barron MP, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry and Oral Health, pointed out that while dentistry accounts for up to 10% of all antibiotics prescribed in the UK, the part dentists can, and are willing, to play in reducing antibiotic prescribing, was too often overlooked.

He stressed the importance of raising patients' awareness of the fact that antibiotics cannot cure decay or dental abscesses and that a dental operative intervention is usually the only appropriate treatment for toothache.

He quoted BDA research showing that hundreds of thousands of people show up at GP surgeries and A&E departments every year with dental pain, and stressed the importance of patients being able to see a dentist instead of being given antibiotics to 'tide them over'.

Sir Paul Beresford, the only dentist amongst the MPs (and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry and Oral Health), echoed his colleague's comments stressing that medicines are only a temporary, and usually ineffective, solution to tooth-related pain and only dental operative intervention can solve the problem.

He called on the Minister to increase the number of emergency dental slots available to patients, which would not only reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing, but also take the pressure off other parts of the NHS.

He also highlighted that the cause of the majority of dental pain requiring antibiotics was decay which was almost totally preventable.

He urged the Minister to work with the Chief Dental Officer and dental bodies and charities to reduce the need for use of antibiotics in dentistry by stepping up oral health education and preventive action.

BDA antibiotic prescribing toolkit

To help dental practices we have worked with the Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP) and Public Health England (PHE) to develop an antimicrobial stewardship toolkit.

With this toolkit you can:

  • Reassure yourself that your prescribing follows dental guidelines
  • Help your patients understand when antibiotics are appropriate
  • Manage risk, and stay compliant.

It includes:

  • Posters and leaflets to inform and educate patients
  • Audit tool and help with action planning
  • Electronic templates for accurate and easy auditing, including Read codes, current guidance and action plan.