Antibiotic Prescribing Habits and Preferences – a Survey of U.S. Dentists
Objectives: An ADA Clinical Evaluators (ACE) Panel survey found antibiotics to be a topic of interest by ADA members. This study was conducted as part of the ADA scientific strategy to educate the members and the public on proper usage of antibiotics. The objective was to evaluate dentists’ habits and uses of antibiotics in treating endodontic infections.
Methods: Cross-sectional descriptive surveys were emailed to 703 practicing American dentists in the ACE Panel. Qualtrics Research CORE platform built the survey and generated a link that was emailed to participants. Links were anonymous and participants received a unique, computer-randomized identification number, generated upon receipt of responses.
Results: 391 dentists completed the survey, consisting of general dentists and specialists (12%) with an average age of 58, distributed among 48 states. Respondents indicated that they don’t treat patients for endodontic infections frequently, with just 12% treating 12+ patients/week and only 19% prescribing antibiotics to treat these infections more than 3x/week. Additionally, 95% of dentists responded that they prescribe the same amount or fewer antibiotics now compared to 5 years ago. In healthy adults, Amoxicillin 500mg, 3x/day for 3-7 days (49%) and Penicillin VK 500mg, 4x/day, for 5-7 days (27%) were prescribed most. However, in patients allergic to penicillin, the majority of respondents (63%) prescribe Clindamycin 600mg day 1, then 300mg 4x/day for 3-7 days. Long-term clindamycin use can cause a C.difficile infection, but 45% of respondents don’t feel equipped to counsel patients regarding C.difficile infection, risk factors, and symptoms.
Conclusions: The data provides a preliminary view into questions dentists encounter when deciding whether to prescribe antibiotics and can be used to inform future education on the topic. The majority of dentists have a good understanding of the importance of appropriate application of antibiotics. More education is needed to improve antibiotic prescription habits in dentistry.