Antibiotic Resistance in Dentistry

Considered one of the biggest threats to global health by the World Health Organization, antimicrobial resistance is expected to be responsible for ten million deaths each year by 2050.[1] The overuse and misuse of antimicrobial medicines is accelerating resistance development, making these drugs inefficient to treat common infections. If coordinated measures at the global scale are not taken rapidly, the world will be soon plunged into a post-antibiotic era in which common infections will become life-threatening.  

Dentists are responsible for prescribing 10% of all antibiotics for humans

Antimicrobial resistance is when the drugs prescribed to treat infections from bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites become ineffective. Antibiotic resistance (ABR) is of particular concern to dental teams, as antibiotics are the class of drugs most prescribed by dentists. About 10% of antibiotic prescriptions are issued by dentists, depending on the country. What’s more, studies have shown that many of these prescriptions were unnecessary. In the UK for example, it was estimated that 81% of antibiotic prescriptions were issued incorrectly or when not needed.[1] Clear and relevant guidance is needed to encourage dental teams to optimize the way that they prescribe antibiotics, doing so only when necessary. 

Optimizing the use of antibiotics in dentistry

Over the last few years, FDI has been working to establish a framework and provide tools for dentist, dental teams and national dental associations to tackle ABR. During the 2017 World Dental Congress, the FDI Science Committee held a forum on antimicrobial resistance and stewardship. The main challenges, the role of dentists and dental teams in contributing to antibiotic resistance, the scope of the problem and a set of concrete actions to take were presented during the forum. Following that, in 2019 the FDI General Assembly adopted an FDI Policy Statement that highlights the main ways that dentists can contribute to antibiotic stewardship based on the WHO global action plan on antimicrobial resistance. In 2020, a white paper highlighting the role of dental teams in reducing ABR will be published, providing a framework for effective and coordinated actions to tackle ABR. The white paper includes an online library of resources with materials from around the world that can be consulted, adopted or adapted to meet local needs. The white paper and online library will be complemented by a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) developed to teach healthcare professionals about the importance of antibiotic stewardship and what they need to do to reduce antibiotic resistance, with a special focus on dentistry. 

Project goals

Awareness raising: increase understanding of resistance through education, communication and training.

Advocacy: promote optimal use of antibiotics in dentistry and the integration of dentistry into National Action Plans

Research and knowledge transfer: Promote research into dental antibiotic resistance and stewardship and facilitate collaboration and exchange

[1] Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance. No Time to Wait: securing the future from drug-resistant infections. Report to Secretary-General of the United Nations. April 2019. 

[2] Sanderson S, William D M. The need for global guidance on antibiotic stewardship in dentistry [online]. AMR Control 2019, [visited on 29th September 2020], Available on


The development of the online library of resources and the MOOC is supported by GSK.

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FDI white paper: The essential role of the dental team in reducing antibiotic resistance

White Papers

This white paper presents a framework for dental teams seeking to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are lifesaving drugs—when you need them, you need them to work. Antibiotic resistance is a global problem and growing rapidly due to widespread misuse of antibiotics, putting patients at risk for ‘superbugs’ that are difficult (and sometimes impossible) to treat with antibiotics. 

The white paper highlights how dental teams can help raise awareness, prevent and control infections, and optimize the use of antibiotics through antibiotic stewardship in dentistry. 

Online library of resources

Rather than providing an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance, the white paper includes an online library of resources on antibiotic resistance and stewardship that may be adopted and/or adapted to meet local needs. The online library includes links to global resources, such as policies and educational material from the World Health Organization and from FDI, as well as national resources, such as guidelines and dental antibiotic stewardship toolkits developed by national dental associations. The online library is updated regularly to include the most recent developments and guidance from around the world.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): Tackling antibiotic resistance: what should dentists do? 

The white paper and online library of resources is complemented by a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) developed in partnership with the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy to teach healthcare professionals (with a special focus on dental teams) about the importance of antibiotic stewardship. The course is free and open to all who would like to learn more about the danger posed by antibiotic resistance and how dental teams can meet the challenge to protect patients.

The development of the online library of resources and the MOOC is supported by GSK.

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