European Antibiotic Awareness Day - 18 November 2017

Simplyhealth is once again supporting European Antibiotics Awareness Day this November by encouraging both dental professionals and patients to think about their antibiotic use.

The effectiveness of antibiotics is fast-reducing and treating infections is becoming more difficult as bacteria increasingly become resistant. It is estimated that, each year, 50,000 lives are lost in Europe and the US to antibiotic-resistant infections. Globally, at least 700,000 people die worldwide and that figure is estimated to exceed 10 million each year by 2050*. 

Catherine Rutland, dentist and Head of Professional Support Services at Simplyhealth says: “When we’re feeling really unwell or suffering from dental pain, we often want to throw all manner of medications at our symptoms to try and feel better as soon as possible. It’s a very common assumption amongst patients that antibiotics are the ‘magic pill’ that will cure all ills. In reality, antibiotics should only be taken to help with very specific bacterial infections, and often patients are suffering with something entirely different like a virus or another source of discomfort – such as toothache - that antibiotics won’t help. The more that we take or prescribe antibiotics ‘just in case’, the more we contribute to the ever-growing problem of antibiotic resistance”.

Dentists account for around 9% of all antibiotic prescriptions in UK primary care**, and this could be reduced if both dental professionals and patients are mindful of their approach to antibiotics.

Rethinking your approach to antibiotics:

• If you are suffering with toothache, see your dentist – not your GP – to receive the most appropriate care. Toothache is usually caused by dental decay, which antibiotics won’t cure.

• Trust your dentist’s judgement on whether they decide to prescribe you antibiotics or not – most of the time you don’t need them.

• Speak to your dentist about managing any pain you might have. They can advise on the most effective ways to alleviate your pain, such as appropriate treatment to remove the cause of the pain, pain medication, ice packs, or salt water rinses. Antibiotics won’t help with this.


• Only use antibiotics as directed and finish the entire course as prescribed– never save them for later.

• Dispose of your leftover antibiotics appropriately; never share them with someone else.

Did you know?

• Antibiotics are not pain killers and cannot relieve aches, pains and fevers.

• The more we take antibiotics unnecessarily, the more we contribute to the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This means that if you need antibiotics in the future, they may no longer be effective for you or other people.

• Antibiotics can cause unpleasant side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea or skin rashes, so only it’s important to take them only when absolutely necessary and under the instruction of a health professional.

• Your body’s immune system is very effective and is capable of fighting mild bacterial infections such as bronchitis or earache, so you won’t always need antibiotics. Over-the-counter remedies are often all you need – speak to your pharmacist for advice.

*Review on Antimicrobial Resistance –
**British Dental Association