New York, Oct 7 : If your are planning to visit a dentist, think twice. According to a study, antibiotics prescribed by dentists may contribute to the growing problem of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) -- a serious and potentially deadly infection that causes severe diarrhoea.
Dentists write more than 24.5 million prescriptions for antibiotics a year. And many of those antibiotics are likely unnecessary, the researchers said.
Antibiotics kill bad and good bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) system. Wiping out the protective bacteria can allow the growth of C. diff bacteria -- one of the top three most urgent antibiotic-resistant threats identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"Dentists have been overlooked as a source of antibiotic prescribing, which can potentially delay treatment when doctors are trying to determine what is causing a patient's illness," said lead author Stacy Holzbauer, from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
"It's important to educate dentists about the potential complications of antibiotic prescribing, including C. diff. It is essential that they be included in efforts to improve antibiotic prescribing."
In the study, presented at IDWeek 2017 in San Diego, California, the team interviewed 1,626 people with community-associated C. diff between 2009 and 2015.
Of those, 926 (57 per cent) reported they had been prescribed antibiotics, 136 (15 per cent) of those for dental procedures.
The study found patients who were prescribed antibiotics for dental procedures tended to be older and more likely to receive clindamycin -- an antibiotic that is associated with C. diff infection.
Of those who had received antibiotics for a dental procedure, 34 per cent had no mention of antibiotics in their medical charts, illustrating the disconnect between dental and medical care.