Comparison of Dental Benzodiazepine Prescriptions From the U.S., England, and Australia From 2013 to 2018

Am J Prev Med. 2021 Jul;61(1):73-79. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2021.01.025. Epub 2021 Mar 26.


Introduction: Benzodiazepines contribute to substance use disorder and are often part of polydrug abuse, most frequently with opioids. Although dental opioid prescribing differs significantly between countries, little is known about the patterns of dental benzodiazepine prescribing. The aim of this study is to compare dental prescribing of benzodiazepines among the U.S., England, and Australia in 2013-2018.

Methods: Population-level data were accessed from national data sets for each country for dental benzodiazepine prescriptions. Outcome measures of dental benzodiazepine prescribing included: (1) prescribing rates by population for each year and (2) the quantity and relative proportion of benzodiazepines by type for each country. The analysis was conducted in 2020.

Results: Between 2013 and 2018, U.S. dentists prescribed 23 times more than English dentists and 7 times more than Australian dentists by population. During the study period, the rate of dental benzodiazepine prescribing decreased in England and the U.S. but increased in Australia. Despite these trends, U.S. dental prescribing rates remained 28 times more than English dentists and 6 times more than Australian dentists in 2018 (U.S., 3.10 prescriptions/1,000 population; England, 0.11 prescriptions/1,000 population; Australia, 0.50 prescriptions/1,000 population). U.S. dentists prescribed a wider variety of benzodiazepines than English and Australian dentists. Diazepam was most commonly prescribed in all countries. In the U.S., triazolam, lorazepam, and alprazolam were next most commonly prescribed. Temazepam was next most frequent in England and Australia.

Conclusions: Significant variation in benzodiazepine prescribing rates and types were seen among the countries. To improve patient safety, further investigation into the appropriate use and choices of benzodiazepines in dentistry is needed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid* / therapeutic use
  • Australia
  • Benzodiazepines*
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • England
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Benzodiazepines