Research from The University of Western Australia has revealed an upward trend in the number of medications prescribed by dentists, particularly an increase in antibiotics, opiates and benzodiazepines.
The research was carried out by UWA PhD scholar Dr Alex Park using data collected from the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme between 2006 and 2018.
Dr Park said research suggested the increase may be attributed to an over-prescription of medicines, but also may be explained by a general increase in population and the number of dentists practising.
“Over-prescription of medicines is definitely something that needs exploring,” Dr Park said. “Some of the medications dentists administer can cause problems if over-prescribed.”
"Sometimes, overdose and medical emergencies can occur, so it is very important that dentists are fully aware of this research so that they can address these problems."
Dr Park said prescribing medication was an important part of dentistry to relieve pain and prevent spreading of infection.
“But just like the work of a surgeon, the balances of medications are complex, and if not exact, can have significant impacts on patient care."
Dr Park said rapidly changing pharmaceutical guidelines made understanding the right medications to administer even more challenging.
“What is correct one month may have changed a few months later,” he said.