A mass social media campaign is encouraging dental teams to reduce dental infections and the need for antibiotics in children as well as promote prevention to families.

Leading UK dental health bodies are urge professionals and patients to #keepantibioticsworking with Thunderclap campaign for European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2017.

In the UK, dentists prescribe more than 5% of all antibiotics and approximately 60% of the total metronidazole in primary health care.

Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem that leads to antibiotics no longer being effective in treating even simple infections.

To coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) on 18 November, UK-wide dental and public health organisations have joined forces to urge oral health professionals to pledge their support for more responsible prescribing.

The Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP(UK)) is working with the Association of Clinical Oral Microbiologists (ACOM), the British Dental Association (BDA), Public Health England, Health Protection Scotland, Public Health Wales, the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and the Antibiotic Action initiative, to ask members to join a social media ‘Thunderclap’ on 18 November.

The consortium is also asking oral health professionals to demonstrate their commitment to responsible antibiotic prescribing by signing a pledge on the Antibiotic Prescribing Pledge webpage and commit to promoting prevention to children and their families to reduce decay, dental infections and the possible resultant use of antibiotics.

More than 30,000 children under the age of nine were admitted to hospital last year because of dental decay. There is evidence of inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics to children, particularly those referred to hospital for dental treatment under general anesthesia.

Dentists can help by delivering a clear message about prevention to families on the importance of good dental health and dental infection prevention, particularly while children are very young.

This will decrease dental decay, reduce the likelihood of dental infections and the need for tooth extractions under general anesthesia resulting in reduced antibiotic prescribing to children and antimicrobial resistance.

To help dentists appropriately prescribe antibiotics and to educate families on the indications for antibiotics, a Dental Antimicrobial Stewardship Toolkit is available on the Public Health England website here.

This toolkit was produced by the Dental Subgroup of Public Health England’s English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilization and Resistance (ESPAUR), the FGDP(UK)) and the BDA and supported by Health Protection Scotland and Public Health Wales. Regular auditing of antibiotic prescribing by dentists will also ensure appropriate use and reduce antimicrobial resistance.

The FGDP(UK) publishes free online guidance to help dentists decide when antibiotics are required. Dentists can help their patients understand that for dental pain, dental care is usually a more effective treatment than antibiotics, and that when antibiotics are prescribed, taking and disposing of them responsibly can help fight the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections.

Mick Horton, Dean of the FGDP(UK), said: 'We all have a responsibility to help educate our patients and our colleagues about the importance of preventing infection and responsible prescribing. Join our Thunderclap and sign the Antibiotic Guardian pledge and help keep antibiotics working for the benefit of everyone.'

Melanie Wilson, representing ACOM, said: 'As oral health care professionals, we all have a significant role to play in reducing the impact of antimicrobial resistance. From the promotion of preventative oral health measures to ensuring our prescribing practices are evidence based, we can help limit the emergence of infections caused by resistant microbes and make a real difference.'

You can support the Thunderclap campaign here www.thunderclap.it/projects/64173