6th October 2020

Antibiotic-resistant infections, which already kill hundreds of thousands of people every year, are on the rise around the world, with the World Health Organisation noting that the situation requires ‘urgent action across all sectors’. With as many as one-in-ten prescriptions for antibiotics written by dentists, Dr Wendy Thompson, an academic general dental practitioner and a leading advocate for the safe and responsible use of antibiotics, explores what the dental industry are doing to meet the challenge...

Prescribing antibiotics for dental problems contributes considerably to the burden of antibiotic use. Dentists are responsible for about 10% of antibiotic prescribing (depending on the country). Yet a recent study suggests that the antibiotics that dentists prescribe are unnecessary 81% of the time. What’s more, while studies around the world have shown that although most dentists know about antibiotic resistance, they don’t always understand that their actions could be exacerbating the problem. Obviously, something needs to change.

In the upcoming FDI World Dental Federation white paper, we’ll be providing a range of examples that clinicians can use to tackle antibiotic resistance and see what strategies might work for them in their own context. The goal of the white paper is toprovide a broad framework, which sets out the wider strategic context for why antibiotic resistance is a big problem and why dentists need to play a part in tackling it.

But that’s not all. The white paper also aims to help different teams, countries, and individuals around the world find the right solution to antibiotic resistance in their own context. This is vital, as we must be careful not to impose evidence-based guidelines developed using evidence from high-income countries on low- and middle-income countries without checking that the evidence is pertinent to them. In other words, it isn’t about providing one set of guidance. It’s about supporting individual countries, individual organizations, and maybe even individuals to understand their own problems and design their own solutions.

Regardless of the country they’re based in however, dentists must face up to the challenge of antibiotic resistance and recognise the risks for their own patients when they choose to prescribe them antibiotics. Dentists don’t just have a responsibility to their own patients – we have a duty to the whole of society to ensure we don’t promote antibiotic-resistant infection. In that way, we can help ensure a safer, healthier future for all.

About the author:

Dr Wendy Thompson is an academic general dental practitioner and a leading advocate for the safe and responsible use of antibiotics. Dr Thompson researches dental antibiotic stewardship and lectures around the world to raise awareness on antibiotic resistance and encourage tailored, context-specific responses to combat it. She is also the lead author of FDI’s imminent white paper on the essential role of the dental team in reducing antibiotic resistance.

NEXT STEPS: Discover the danger posed by antibiotic resistance, and how dental teams can meet the challenge to protect patients by joining our FREE COURSE: Tackling Antibiotic Resistance: What Should Dentists Do?


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