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Letter to the Editor
Editor, – I note the comments by Associate Professor Michael McCullough from the Australian Dental Association that antibiotics are not needed for the majority of dental infections (Aust Prescr 2010;33:71). However, access to public dentistry is limited and the wait for private dentists' appointments is often many weeks. Dental receptionists may tell patients who ring up for an appointment with a painful dental condition to go to the local doctor to get antibiotics. They often say 'because the dentist won't treat you unless you are on antibiotics'. Faced with a patient with a long and painful wait to see a dentist and a belief they have to be on antibiotics, it is impossible to not give a prescription. Why doesn't the dentist organise the antibiotics which 'must' be given?
Many of these patients may improve temporarily with anti-inflammatory drugs and perhaps the antibiotics. Then they decide they cannot afford to visit the dentist (if they were ever given an appointment at all).
Pambula Medical Centre