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Dental consultations in UK general practice and antibiotic prescribing rates: a retrospective cohort study

Cope, Anwen L. ORCID:, Chestnutt, Ivor G. ORCID:, Wood, Fiona ORCID: and Francis, Nicholas A. ORCID: 2016. Dental consultations in UK general practice and antibiotic prescribing rates: a retrospective cohort study. British Journal of General Practice , e329-e336. 10.3399/bjgp16X684757

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Background The frequency of consulting for dental problems in general medical practice, and antibiotic prescribing associated with these consultations, is poorly described. Aim To describe consultation rates and antibiotic use for dental problems in UK general medical practice, and explore factors associated with antibiotic prescribing for dental conditions. Design and setting A retrospective cohort study using Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a database of general practice patient records in the UK. Method All dental consultations between 2004 and 2013 were identified. The main outcome was the prescription of an antibiotic during a dental consultation. Multilevel logistic regression was conducted to examine factors associated with antibiotic prescription. Results In all, 288 169 dental consultations were included in the cohort. The average rate of dental consultations was 6.06 consultations per 1000 patient-years. Rates of dental consultation decreased from 6.84 consultations per 1000 patient-years in 2008, to 4.23 consultations per 1000 patient-years in 2013. Consultation rates were higher among females than males and highest in patients aged 20–29 years. An antibiotic was prescribed in 57.1% of consultations. Significant predictors (P<0.001) of antibiotic prescribing included: patient middle age, male sex, and previous consultations for tooth-related problems. Antibiotics were more likely to be prescribed during consultations in December (odds ratio [OR] 1.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.13 to 1.24, P<0.001, reference month: June) and on a Monday (OR 1.10, 95% CI = 1.07 to 1.13, P<0.001) or a Friday (OR 1.15, 95% CI = 1.12 to 1.18, P<0.001, reference day: Wednesday). Conclusion Consultation rates for dental problems in UK general practice are relatively low but more than half result in the prescription of an antibiotic. This raises concerns about patient morbidity and contributions to antimicrobial resistance.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
Publisher: Royal College of General Practitioners
ISSN: 0960-1643
Date of Acceptance: 30 November 2015
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 10:10

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