Overuse of antibiotics is rampant in the U.S. One study found that at least half of all antibiotics taken outside of a hospital are unnecessary.[i]
Not only do these drugs have serious side effects, but antibiotic overuse has led to drug-resistant superbugs. They now kill about 23,000 Americans every year.[ii]
You might be surprised to learn that dentists are among the most avid antibiotic prescribers. They often require patients to routinely take them before appointments.
Antibiotics are supposed to prevent heart infections that might occur when bacteria get into the bloodstream during teeth cleanings and other procedures.
But new research shows that 81% of the antibiotics prescribed by dentists are completely unnecessary.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open. The research team collected data on 170,000 antibiotic prescriptions written by dentists for 90,000 patients.
According to medical guidelines, dental patients are supposed to take an antibiotic as a precaution only if they have certain heart conditions. But less than 21% of patients given antibiotics had one of these conditions.
Professor Jessina McGregor of Oregon State University was one of the researchers. She said that dental antibiotics have “risks that outweighed the benefits” for most patients.[iii]
Don’t Take Antibiotics You Don’t Need
You should never take antibiotics unless you absolutely need them to treat a serious infection. If your dentist makes you routinely take antibiotics, show them the new study. You can find it here.
Ask your dentist whether you really need antibiotics. If he or she says yes, consider getting a second opinion from another dentist.