Antibiotic prescribing for dental conditions: general medical practitioners and dentists compared

Br Dent J. 2000 Apr 8;188(7):398-400. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4800493.


Objective: To compare the level of prescribing and types of antibiotics prescribed for dental problems by general medical practitioners and dentists.

Design: Secondary analysis of standard consultation data and prescription records from four different settings.

Setting: 30 participating general practices in the General Practice Morbidity Database for Wales in 1996.

Subjects: 1,185 attendances for tooth-related problems, at 30 participating practices in the General Practice Morbidity Database for Wales in 1996. Standard consultation records from a GDP emergency dental rota, and two weekend emergency dental clinics: one in a health centre, the other in a dental hospital.

Results: More than two thirds (68%) of attendances at general medical practices for tooth-related problems resulted in a prescription for antibiotics. In contrast less than a third (28%) of patients seen by a GDP rota, about half (52%) of patients at a weekend emergency clinic in a health centre, and just more than a third (38%) of patients attending the dental hospital clinic received antibiotics. General medical practitioners were also more likely to prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics than dentists.

Conclusion: For acute dental problems general medical practitioners are more likely to prescribe antibiotics than dentists. There also appear to be inter-professional differences in the tendency to prescribe broad spectrum antibiotics. Initiatives to rationalise prescribing for dental conditions may need to target doctors as well as dentists.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Community Dentistry / statistics & numerical data
  • Databases as Topic
  • Dental Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • General Practice, Dental / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tooth Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Wales


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents