Antibiotic Resistance Concerns: The Threat of Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria

Antibiotic Resistance Concerns: The Threat of Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria

Posted by Dental Didactics CE on Jun 11th 2022

Antibiotics Becoming Less Effective

Only 80 years ago in New Haven, Connecticut, Anne Miller was dying from a severe bacterial infection in her bloodstream. He physicians injected her with a new experimental drug: penicillin. The treatment was effective, saved her life, and ushered in the era of the "miracle drugs"; antibiotics. Today the effectiveness of these pharmaceutical wonder drugs is rapidly being diminished by overuse and the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is the true nature of "antibiotic resistance". The human body is not resistant to antibiotics, the infecting bacteria and fungi have developed resistance to the antibiotics that have been developed to kill them.

Dangerous Antibiotic Side Effects

As dental professionals we need to recognize the inherent danger of over-prescribing antibiotics and incorporate this knowledge into our clinical practices. The CDC reports that as many as 3 million patients in the United States are currently facing the consequences of over-prescribing antibiotics, and are fighting to battle infections caused by multiple-drug resistant bacteria. CDC data reveals that 35,000 people die each year in the United States as a result of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, and an additional 225,000 are hospitalized due to C. difficile complications.

Changing Antibiotic Premedication Recommendations

Despite the desire of many patients to receive a prescription for antibiotics for various dental complaints, practitioners must be prudent in their prescribing practices. Patients need to be informed of the dangers of taking unnecessary antibiotics and the potential for development of drug-resistant infections. One of the most common issues that arises each week in dental practices is the controversy of physicians prescribing antibiotics for patients with artificial joints prior to dental procedures (often every 3-6 months for dental cleanings, for life). However, recent changes to the national prescribing protocols, presented by the ADA and AAOS, greatly restrict the prescribing of antibiotics for dental premedication. Recent research indicates that antibiotic premedication for the majority of artificial joint patients is both unnecessary and ineffective, and presents a much greater potential danger of allergic reactions, anaphylaxis, and development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Patients should always consult with their orthopedic surgeon regarding whether antibiotic premedication is truly needed.

For a comprehensive continuing education course on this topic visit: Antibiotic Resistance Concerns