Dentists in Western US, urban areas more likely to prescribe unnecessary drugs, study finds

Dentists who practice in the Western U.S. and urban areas are more likely to write unnecessary prescriptions to patients prior to dental procedures, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Researchers analzyed 168,450 dental visits, recording the number of times patients were given antibiotics prior to procedures. They compared the antibiotic prescriptions to the number of high-risk cardiac patients who are the only patients recommended for antibiotics prior to a dental procedure, according to national guidelines.

Beyond finding geographically where dentists were prescribing unnecessary antibiotics, the study found that 81 percent of the antibiotics prescribed were unnecessary.

Patients who were most likely to fill the unnecessary prescriptions had prosthetic joint implants and were receiving clindamycin, the study found.

"These rules point to trends by geography that are unexpected — they are opposite of what is seen in medical clinics — and to an alarming tendency of dental providers to select clindamycin, which is associated with a higher risk of developing C. difficile infections when compared to some other antibiotics," said lead study author Katie Suda, PhD.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open. Dr. Suda and her team concluded that more research needs to be done, as her findings may underestimate unnecessary antibiotic prescribing.

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