Covid-19 brings rise in antibiotic prescribing

Antibiotic prescribing by dentists in England between April to July 2020 was 25 per cent higher than the same period in 2019, with a peak in June 2020, according to data analysed by researchers at the University of Manchester

The study published in the British Dental Journal looked at NHS Business Services Authority 2018-2020 data for England, noting national and regional trends in dental antibiotic use.

The researchers found that some regions experienced greater increases and for longer periods than others – with London having the highest increase (60 per cent) and the South West having the lowest (10 per cent).

The results are not surprising given the advice to GDPs to manage patients remotely with "advice, analgesics and antibiotics".

The authors conclude: "Access to dental services is an important non-clinical factor which drives unnecessary dental antibiotic prescribing. Dentistry has an essential role to play in global efforts to tackle antibiotic resistance. In the words of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee, when people present with pain or swelling, dentists must 'properly address the cause of the problem.'

"As dental care provision adapts to the COVID-19 era, it is important to ensure access for all to high-quality urgent dental care and to understand the reasons for variation in order to optimise the use of antibiotics in the future."