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Antibiotic resistance in dentistry

Dentists have a role to play in reducing the amount of antibiotic prescribing. We are campaigning for properly funded emergency treatment slots and we have called for a removal of the pressures that push dental patients to GPs, to help bring down antibiotic prescribing rates.

What's the problem?

Antimicrobial resistance could lead to many modern medical and surgical treatments becoming impossible. Currently 25,000 people die each year in Europe from sepsis caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria.


A report from the House of Common's Health and Social Care Committee estimates that a failure to address the problem of antibiotic resistance could result in ten million deaths, every year, globally by 2050.


What about dentistry and antibiotic resistance?

Figures published by the English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance (ESPAUR) show that dental practices dispensed around a quarter fewer prescriptions for antibiotics in 2017 compared to 2013. 


ESPAUR highlighted our national and international efforts on leading antimicrobial stewardship in dentistry, working with a range of high-level partners to support the One Health agenda.  


What is the BDA doing about antibiotic prescribing?

We are calling on Government for a requirement for appropriately funded emergency time. This will allow dentists to establish a differential diagnosis and provide appropriate interventive treatment when required, rather than prescribe antibiotics.


In the UK, we are part of the Department of Health and Social Care's Human Health AMR Stakeholder Group, which is developing a new UK five-year strategy, and an underpinning 20-year vision to address AMR, and at a parliamentary round table discussion on diagnostics.

We're lobbying for public engagement on the issue of antimicrobial resistance - focusing on disease prevention, management of expectations and information on the correct use of antimicrobials.

We are part of Public Health England's dental working group on antimicrobial utilisation and resistance. We also continue to work collaboratively towards One Health goals alongside medical, pharmaceutical, veterinary and international colleagues.

We are working with the Council of European Dentists to ensure cohesive action across Europe. Through working together we hope to make a bigger impact and ensure patients are treated effectively.


Each year, we support the World Health Organisation's Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week and the European Antibiotic Awareness Day - which both take place in November.


​Further information and resources

Read our blogs on antibiotic prescribing, for the latest updates and opinions on this topic.


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Through policy and campaigning work, the BDA is able to ensure that the concerns of all sections of the profession are raised and that dentists' voices are heard at a national level: join us.

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