GPs unnecessarily prescribing antibiotics for toothache, study finds

Dental / Dental Practitioner News

People with dental problems may be receiving inappropriate or unnecessary treatments after visiting their GPs, according to a new study.

A team from Cardiff University's School of Dentistry examined dental consultations in UK general practice and the resultant number of antibiotics prescriptions over a ten-year retrospective period.

“A new study has indicated that many people with dental problems are unnecessarily being prescribed antibiotics.“

It was found that many patients are visiting their GP rather than their dentist when they have a dental issue; moreover, over half of these patients were not offered a long-term treatment for their pain and were instead prescribed antibiotics, often unnecessarily.

This trend not only means that the problems are not being addressed properly, but it also accelerates the development of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.

It was noted that the study did not show why patients are going to their GPs rather than their dentists, though it was theorised that it may be because they find it hard to get a timely appointment with a dentist.

Dr Anwen Cope, a qualified dentist and speciality trainee in Dental Public Health at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: "Understanding the drivers of antibiotic prescribing for oral health problems will help inform educational interventions for GPs to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate care for their dental conditions."

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