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."