Antibiotics prescribed by dentists as a preemptive strike against infection are unnecessary 81% of the time, according to a study published today in JAMA Network Open.
The findings are important because dentists are responsible for 10% of all antibiotic prescriptions written in the United States.
Antibiotics prescribed when not warranted expose patients to the risk of side effects unnecessarily and also contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance – bacteria evolving to make the drugs ineffective.
Antibiotics are recommended as a prophylactic prior to some dental procedures for patients with certain types of heart conditions.
Researchers including Jessina McGregor of Oregon State University used a national health care claims database to examine nearly 170,000 dentist-written antibiotic prescriptions from 2011 to 2015.
The prescriptions involved more than 90,000 patients, 57 percent female, with a median age of 63.
Greater than 90 percent of the patients underwent a procedure that possibly warranted taking an antibiotic ahead of time. However, less than 21 percent of those people had a cardiac condition that made an antibiotic prescription recommended under medical guidelines.
Read more at Oregon State University