The Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP(UK)) and British Dental Association have published an updated version of their Antimicrobial Prescribing Self-Audit Tool.

The news coincides with the launch of the government’s 5-Year Action Plan and 20-Year Vision for antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The update is intended to help the dental profession play its part in tackling AMR by further reducing inappropriate antibiotic prescribing.

Poor prescribing practice and misuse of antibiotics are contributing to an increasing incidence of multi-drug-resistant infections, causing an estimated 700,000 deaths each year worldwide.

The government predicts this toll could rise to 10 million by 2050, and its plan includes a target to reduce the use of antibiotics in humans by 15% over the next five years and to ‘contain and control AMR’ by 2040.

Dentists issue around 5-7% of NHS antibiotic prescriptions, and the Antimicrobial Prescribing Self-Audit Tool consists of a data collection sheet together with a comprehensive guide enabling them to complete a clinical audit of their prescribing and their management of dental infections.

A comparison for dentists

Endorsed by Public Health England, the tool is designed to be used alongside the Faculty’s Antimicrobial Prescribing for General Dental Practitioners guidance so that dentists can compare their practice against standards. The tool was originally launched in November 2016, and has now been updated to promote understanding that it facilitates, rather than performs, an audit.

Clinical audits of antibiotic prescribing have been shown to lead to a fall in both the number of prescriptions and in the number of inappropriate prescriptions, as well as dramatic improvements in the accuracy of dose, frequency and duration for antibiotic prescriptions.

Antimicrobial Prescribing for General Dental Practitioners provides evidence-based guidance on when to prescribe antibiotics, what to prescribe, for how long and at what dosage, and is available on the Faculty’s website.

The Faculty also encourages GDPs to take the British Association of Oral Surgeons’ Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) e-Learning Modules, which provide free verified CPD enabling them to demonstrate application of the principles of antimicrobial stewardship to common clinical scenarios.

‘The government’s renewed focus on tackling AMR is very welcome, and dentists have a vital contribution to make in keeping antibiotics working,’ said Dr Nick Palmer, editor and co-author of the Faculty’s prescribing guidance.

‘FGDP(UK) is enabling dentists to play their part in tackling a significant global problem, and by using the Self-Audit Tool, consulting our guidance and undertaking CPD, GDPs can help ensure they only prescribe antibiotics when clinically justified.

‘We can also help reduce misuse of antibiotics by educating our patients to take and dispose of them responsibly.’