Antibiotics are medications that inhibit growth and destroy bacteria. These medications have saved countless lives, but are now under scrutiny. Prescribing antibiotics when they are not needed, leads to bacterial resistance and bacterial resistance creates a host of problems. The American Dental Association reported that dentists are the third-highest prescriber of antibiotics in an outpatient setting.
Antibiotic resistance is a global health challenge.
Antibiotic resistance is a global health challenge because it can lead to severe infections, medical complications, longer recovery time, increased hospitalizations, more costly treatment and even death. When a strain of bacteria is no longer affected by an antibiotic, it is considered antibiotic-resistant.
Antibiotics are associated with C. difficile (a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon).
Superbugs are bacteria that have high levels of resistance to a wide range of antibiotics. Superbugs are on the rise.
The Mayo Clinic states that approximately 2 million infections result in 23,000 deaths from antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the United States each year.
In a report published in April, The World Health Organization stated that drug-resistant diseases could become the leading cause of death globally by 2050.
Dental pain and swelling are a common complaint for patients who visit the dentist. Dentists have often prescribed antibiotics to relieve dental pain and swelling. The American Dental Association recently published a report providing clinical recommendations advising dentists against prescribing antibiotics for dental pain and swelling. The ADA stated that from 2017 to 2019 between 30% and 85% of dental antibiotic prescriptions may have been unwarranted. An expert panel outlined the benefits and harms associated with antibiotic use. Evidence shows that antibiotics can be harmful when used unnecessarily. The panel advised using antibiotics only when systemic involvement is present.
Some of the reasons antibiotics are overused:
- Patients pressure their doctor to receive prescriptions for antibiotics
- Patients self-diagnosing and purchasing antibiotics online
- Patients taking antibiotics left over from a previous illness
Doctors, dentists and patients must all help to ensure that medications are used properly. It is our goal at Pi Dental Center to prescribe wisely. When possible, the doctors at Pi Dental Center recommend over-the-counter pain relievers. Antibiotics are used only when necessary.
Tips for controlling antibiotic use:
- Let mild illnesses run their course.
- Refrain from pressuring your dentist for an antibiotic prescription.
- Take all antibiotics as prescribed.
- Do not take antibiotics longer than prescribed.
- Never use left-over antibiotics.
- Do not take antibiotics that have been prescribed for someone else.
- Practice good oral hygiene to avoid serious dental problems.
Talk to your dentist about any concerns that you have about your care and what medication is needed. Give us a call if you need additional information or would like to schedule an appointment.
Responsible Antibiotic Usage Sources:
Evidence-based clinical practice guideline on antibiotic use for the urgent management of pulpal- and periapical-related dental pain and intraoral swelling, A report from the American Dental Association, ADA News – November 2019
Antimicrobial resistance: risk associated with antibiotic overuse and initiatives to reduce the problem. Sage Journals: Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety
Antibiotics not needed to manage most pulpal-related dental pain, ADA guideline advises. November 06, 2019 Oral Health California Dental Association.
Overuse and overprescribing of antibiotics. University of Minnesota – CIDRAP. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/asp/overuse-overprescribing-of-antibiotics
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC: 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions unnecessary. May 3, 2016.
Antibiotics: misuse puts you and others at risk. Mayo Clinic. Dec 12, 2014.
Related Subject: Premedication