An interesting article titled “Patients’ Perception of the Need for Antibiotics Following Routine Tooth Extraction,” appears in the May 2015 issue of the Journal of Oral and Maxilofacial Sugery and written by Charles D. Boxx and Daniel M. Laskin (vol. 73, issue 5). The article seeks to perform a study of 120 patients having teeth removed in Richmond, Virginia, at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), to see their perception of antibiotic need.
The patients were asked to complete a questionnaire about whether they expected to be prescribed antibiotics after tooth extraction, whether they would request them if not prescribed and the reason why, and whether they would expect to be prescribed antibiotics for a toothache or a dental abscess. The patients were further asked if they had ever requested antibiotics from a medical doctor for a cold. The patients also indicated their gender, age, and level of education.
The study group consisted of 61 women and 59 women with an average age of 48 years. Eighty of the 120 patients expected (66.7%) to receive an antibiotic after tooth removal. There was found to be no statistical difference in the age and education of the positive and negative groups. Seventy percent of the 80 patients who expected antibiotics after tooth removal said that they would ask for them if they were not prescribed. Eighty seven and a half percent of patients expected to be prescribed antibiotics if they had a dental abscess and forty one and seven tenths percent if they had a toothache. Furthermore it was found that 19 of the 120 patients had asked a medical doctor for antibiotics for a cold.
The authors state
“The reason given most often for wanting antibiotics (82%) was to prevent a possible infection. However, this is contrary to the literature, which provides no evidence that prophylactic antibiotics given to healthy patients after routine tooth extraction can prevent infections and indicates that they might even cause some adverse effects.”
The authors feel that patients lack knowledge about the indications and contraindications for antiobiotic use. Even highly educated patients expect antibiotics after teeth removal so the authors feel it is important for physicians to take time to explain to their patients the reasons why antibiotics are not prescribed after tooth removal.