Characteristics Associated With Opioid and Antibiotic Prescribing by Dentists

Am J Prev Med. 2021 May;60(5):648-657. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2020.11.017. Epub 2021 Mar 19.


Introduction: The objective of this study is to identify county-level characteristics that may be high-impact targets for opioid and antibiotic interventions to improve dental prescribing.

Methods: Prescriptions during 2012-2017 were extracted from the IQVIA Longitudinal Prescription database. Primary outcomes were yearly county-level antibiotic and opioid prescribing rates. Multivariable negative binomial regression identified associations between prescribing rates and county-level characteristics. All analyses occurred in 2020.

Results: Over time, dental opioid prescribing rates decreased by 20% (from 4.02 to 3.22 per 100 people), whereas antibiotic rates increased by 5% (from 6.85 to 7.19 per 100 people). Higher number of dentists per capita, higher proportion of female residents, and higher proportion of residents aged <65 years were associated with increased opioid rates. Relative to location in the West, location in the Northeast (59%, 95% CI=52, 65) and Midwest (64%, 95% CI=60, 70) was associated with lower opioid prescribing rates. Higher clinician density, median household income, proportion female, and proportion White were all independently associated with higher antibiotic rates. Location in the Northeast (149%, 95% CI=137, 162) and Midwest (118%, 95% CI=111, 125) was associated with higher antibiotic rates. Opioid and antibiotic prescribing rates were positively associated.

Conclusions: Dental prescribing of opioids is decreasing, whereas dental antibiotic prescribing is increasing. High prescribing of antibiotics is associated with high prescribing of opioids. Strategies focused on optimizing dental antibiotics and opioids are needed given their impact on population health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid* / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dentists
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Population Health*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents