Trends in Australian dental prescribing of antibiotics: 2005–2016

L. J. Walsh, P. J. Ford, Treasure McGuire, M. van Driel, S. A. Hollingworth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Prescribing of antibiotics by dentists for surgical prophylaxis or as an adjunct to managing dental infections is a substantial part of the overall landscape for prescribed antibiotics in health care settings. 

Methods: We explored trends in the antibiotic prescribing patterns of Australian dentists over the 12-year period, 2005–2016. We obtained data on dispensed prescriptions of antibiotics from registered dentists subsidized on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 

Results: Australian dentists were responsible for almost 7 million dispensed prescriptions of antibiotics over 12 years; an average of 24 prescriptions per year per dentist. The most commonly prescribed antibiotic was amoxicillin, followed by amoxicillin + clavulanic acid and metronidazole. These top three antibiotics constituted more than 80% of all antibiotics prescribed and their use increased dramatically over time. There was a large increase in the prescribing of broad-spectrum antibiotics over time, most of which occurred from 2011 to 2016. 

Conclusions: Excessive prescribing of broad-spectrum antibiotics runs contrary to national antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) initiatives and guidelines. Multifaceted educational strategies are essential to align prescribing with current best practice. High-level evidence to inform clear guidelines on antibiotic prescribing in dental infections, with audit and feedback, should reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics in dentistry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S37-S41
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Dental Journal
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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