Antibiotics are important in the management and prophylaxis of infection in patients at risk of experiencing microbial disease. As a result of the increase in antimicrobial resistance, the authors conducted a survey to assess current antibiotic use in dental practice.
The authors mailed a two-page, pretested survey to all licensed dental practitioners in British Columbia, Canada. A total of 2,542 surveys were mailed; 19.9 percent were returned by fax or mail. The authors examined an association between factors analyzed using a chi 2 test.
Respondents were demographically consistent with all registered dentists in British Columbia. They reported writing an average of 4.45 prescriptions per week. Antibiotics prescribed after treatment primarily were penicillin and its derivatives. Recommended adult doses of penicillin were prescribed by 59.2 percent of respondents; recommended daily doses of amoxicillin were prescribed by 72.2 percent of respondents. The average prescription duration was 6.92 days. Respondents prescribed prophylactic antibiotics an average of 1.15 times per week for prophylaxis of bacterial endocarditis; 17.5 percent reported postoperative dosing for prophylaxis, ranging from a one- to seven-day prescription with an average of 6.91 postoperative doses. Preoperative antibiotics were prescribed for patients with a history of rheumatic fever or any heart murmur or prosthetic hip. Antibiotics were prescribed more frequently for surgical procedures and patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome than for other circumstances.
More than 80 percent of respondents reported that they followed current American Heart Association prophylaxis guidelines. The authors, however, noted discrepancies in prophylactic use of antibiotics for bacterial endocarditis and for patients with large joint prostheses, as well as in prescribing antibiotics in the presence of clinical infection. In therapeutic use, approximately 85 percent of respondents followed appropriate prescription guidelines for dosing and duration of therapy.
Appropriate and correct use of antibiotics is essential to ensure that effective and safe treatment is available and that practices that may enhance microbial resistance are avoided. To improve standards of care, dentists need up-to-date pharmacology in dental education, as well as continuing education, further outcome studies and continuous assessment of dental practices.