Objectives: To assess dentistry-based utilization of the 11 antibiotics prescribed by dentists in Norway and its relative contribution to national outpatient consumption and to determine the relationship between numbers of prescriptions and the consumption of these antibiotics.
Methods: Data on national antibiotic prescriptions by dentists in 2004 and 2005 were used. Consumption of the antibiotics was expressed using WHO defined daily doses (DDDs), DDDs per 1000 inhabitants per day (DIDs) and numbers of prescriptions per 1000 inhabitants (PIDs).
Results: Analysis of 268,834 prescriptions issued by 4765 dentists showed that the dentists' prescriptions contributed 8% of the total national consumption of the 11 antibiotics and 13.5%, 2.8% and 1.2% of the national beta-lactam penicillins, macrolides and lincosamides and tetracyclines utilization, respectively. The dentists' contributions to the national phenoxymethylpenicillin, spiramycin and metronidazole consumptions were considerably higher (> or =13.2%) than for the other prescribed antibiotics (< or =8.6%). There was a strong positive correlation between numbers of DDDs and numbers of prescriptions and between DIDs and numbers of PIDs.
Conclusions: Reliance of Norwegian dentists on phenoxymethylpenicillin as their first choice suggests a low prevalence of antibiotic resistance among oral bacteria in Norway. Norwegian dentists prefer to prescribe narrow-spectrum antibiotics; their prescribing is conservative and relatively low compared with that of physicians.