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81% of Antibiotic Prophylaxis by Dentists Are Unnecessary

An American journal recently published a study proving that most of the antibiotics prescribed by dentists are unnecessary, hence, avoidable. The study also discussed the major adverse impact of the practice: increasing antibiotic resistance.

Researchers at Oregon State University, the University of Illinois-Chicago and Northwestern University collaborated for the research, which was published in JAMA Network Open. They used Truven, a national integrated health claims database to analyze more than 168,000 dentist-written prescriptions that were given out between the years 2011 and 2015.

Above 90,000 patients were involved in the study of these prescriptions, out of which 90% were prescribed antibiotics ahead of a dental procedure that possibly warranted the prophylaxis. Clindamycin was the most common drug, which in most cases was prescribed due to presence of joint implant in the patient. The study procured that less than 21% of the patients actually had cardiac condition that made an antibiotic prescription necessary under medical guidelines.

It was also found that 81% of the unnecessary prescriptions were given in urban population centers and 79% in rural areas.

Susan Rowan, DDS, executive associate dean at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry commented on the importance of the study, saying, “Dental providers are very thoughtful when they develop care plans for their patients and there are many factors that inform dentists’ recommendations, but this study shows that there is an opportunity for dentists to reevaluate if necessary. I think dental providers should view this study, which is the first to look at preventive antibiotic prescribing for dental procedures, as a powerful call to action, not a rebuke.”

September 16, 2019

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