UCLan video warns us of the dangers of taking antibiotics for toothache

Taking antibiotics for toothache can be bad for your health

That's the message spelt out in a new video put together by clinicians at the University of Central Lancashire's acclaimed dental school.

The Preston-based university has teamed up with the British Endodontic Society (BES) to warn people about the misuse of antibiotics to treat dental pain .

The film was made by the UCLan Innovation Lab, on the back of a project with the School of Dentistry to produce an augmented reality (AR) game called BacteriAR which was nominated for a Guardian University Award. It has a similar message around mis-using antibiotics but is aimed at a younger audience.

Nargis Sonde, clinical lecturer in restorative dentistry at UCLan,

The idea is to try to cut down on the use of antibiotics and to help people understand what their options might be for the most common types of dental pain. The key theme is that most causes of dental pain can’t be treated with antibiotics and alternative treatment methods are much more effective.

GPs are already being urged to cut down on handing out anti-biotics to patients, but there is still concern about widespread overuse in dentistry.

Nargis Sonde, clinical lecturer in restorative dentistry at UCLan, said many preconceptions need to be addressed and they are hoping the video will make it easier for people to understand why they shouldn't be taking, or asking for, them unnecessarily.

She said: "Although dentists make up a small proportion of prescribers in the UK, they contribute to around 10 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions.

Dr Shalini Kanagasingam from the School of Dentistry at UCLan

"Most of our first line prescriptions are broad spectrum antibiotics, meaning they work on a wider range of bacteria. In some cases, this will be useful, but the side effects of using them is that more bacteria are likely to become resistant to their effects and eventually no longer work."

Nargis added: "It is important for patients to know that their dentist might decide not to prescribe antibiotics for them and to remember that there will probably be a very good reason for this. We thought a short educational video may help patients to better understand what their options might be."

Dr Shalini Kanagasingam from the School of Dentistry was also involved in the project.

She is very worried about the growing number of deaths worldwide from drug resistant diseases, which the World Health Organisation says could reach 10 million a year by 2050.

She said: "The problem isn’t going away so we need to act now to do what we can to try and stave of this impending crisis and empower patients to make better healthcare choices."

Phil Tomson, honorary secretary of the BES, added: "The video’s style makes it patient and family-friendly and we are very keen for it to be shared with patients and within the dental and health communities, so the message reaches as many people as possible."

The video produced to coincide with World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, which runs until Tuesday November 24.