Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2022

Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2022

Professor Phil Taylor, Dean of RCSEd’s dental faculty, issues a warning on over-prescribing for World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-25 November).

This will be the second year running that our dental faculty is backing World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, (WAAW) as it aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The awareness campaign, which will run from 18-24 November, has adopted the theme ‘Preventing antimicrobial resistance together’ and encourages best practices for using antimicrobials responsibly among the general public, health workers and policy makers, to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

I’m sure you will all agree that as members of the dental profession, we have all had to make rapid changes to the ways in which we treat patients over the past few years, with dentists playing an essential role in the fight against microbial resistance.

I have been very vocal over the fact that staff retention challenges and the outbreak of Covid-19 have undoubtedly impacted dental services across the whole of the UK. However now, as we move into the recovery phase of the NHS, I believe it is an important time for us as dentists to stop and think before prescribing antibiotics to a patient.

Raising awareness of the risks of antimicrobial resistance is not just important, but life-saving. Currently, the global loss of life caused by antibiotic resistance is estimated at over 700,000 deaths per annum. This is predicted to climb exponentially to over 10 million deaths per annum by the year 2050 if no action is taken.

One of the problems is that it’s very easy for patients just to be given antibiotics when they usually don’t need them, as they need treatment instead. Nonetheless, it’s almost impossible for dentists to see all the patients that have that kind of pain and do the treatment on them, as well as carrying out their normal working hours.

Adding to this issue is that the more a dentist prescribes antibiotics for pain, then the higher risk that patient is of adapting to the antibiotics, which will then be ineffective when the patient actually needs them. Then there’s also the risk of the patient being allergic to the antibiotics, which of course poses a further risk.

There are a lot of antibiotics being prescribed unnecessarily and we want people to stop and think about it before prescribing. This is why we very much are in support of the WAAW initiative alongside so many others within the oral and dentistry profession.

By keeping up to date with this issue, really thinking before you prescribe and using antibiotics carefully, there is excellent progress to be made in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. This Antimicrobial Awareness Week, we must continue to push out this message and prescribe only when appropriate.

Further information and resources for healthcare professionals can be found here.

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