How did COVID-19 impact on dental antibiotic prescribing across England?

Br Dent J. 2020 Nov;229(9):601-604. doi: 10.1038/s41415-020-2336-6. Epub 2020 Nov 13.


Introduction Antibiotic resistance is a global problem driven by unnecessary antibiotic use. Between 25 March-8 June 2020, COVID-19 restrictions severely reduced access to dentistry in England. Dental practices were instructed to manage patients remotely with advice, analgesics and antibiotics, where appropriate.Aim To describe the impact of the policy to restrict dental access on antibiotic prescribing.Methods NHS Business Services Authority 2018-2020 data for England were analysed to describe national and regional trends in dental antibiotic use.Results Antibiotic prescribing in April to July 2020 was 25% higher than April to July 2019, with a peak in June 2020. Some regions experienced greater increases and for longer periods than others. The increase was highest in London (60%) and lowest in the South West (10%). East of England had the highest rate of dental antibiotic prescriptions per 1,000 of the population every month over the study period (April to July 2020).Conclusion Restricted access to dental care due to COVID-19 resulted in greatly increased dental antibiotic prescribing, against an otherwise downward trend. As dental care adapts to the COVID-19 era, it is important to ensure access for all to high-quality urgent dental care. Understanding the reasons for variation will help to optimise the use of antibiotics in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections*
  • England
  • Humans
  • London
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents