Roots Magazine 2/2015 – Use and abuse of antibiotics

Steven Morrow DDS

For the past 80 years, antibiotic therapy has played a major role in the treatment of bacterial infectious diseases.

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Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 by Fleming and sulfanilamide in 1934 by Domagk, the entire world has benefited from one of the greatest medical advancements in history. The discovery of safe, systemic antibiotics has been a major factor in the control of infectious diseases and, as such, has increased life expectancy and the quality of life for millions of people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy of individuals in the United States born in 1900 was 47 years, while those born in 2005 is projected to be 78 years. At the beginning of the 20th century, the infant (< 1 year) mortality rate in the United States was 100/1,000 live births compared to 6.7/1,000 in 2006. The major reason for these phenomenal achievements has been the ability to control infectious diseases.3

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the factors responsible for the development of the current state of antibacterial drug resistance.
  • Explain what nosocomial infections are and what affect they have on the community as a whole.
  • Discuss the proper clinical use of antibiotics in dentistry.]

The C.E. quiz will be available online, upon registration for this course.

For additional reading on the topic, please refer to:

  • Health, United States, 2009: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, 2009.
  • Health, United States, 2010: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, April 2010.
  • Pallasch TJ. Pharmacology of Anxiety, Pain and Infection. In: Endodontics. 4th ed. Williams and Wilkins, Malvern, PA, 1994.
  • ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. Combating antibiotic resistance. J Am Dent Assoc 2004;135:484.
  • Nicolle L. Nosocomial Infections. Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health. Macmillan Reference USA, Farmington Hills, MI, 2002.
  • Sweeney LC, Jayshree D, Chambers PA, Heritage J. Antibiotic resistance in general dental practice—a cause for concern. J Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 2004;53:567.
  • Epstein JB, Chong S, Le ND. A survey of antibiotic use in dentistry. J Am Dent Assoc 2000;131:1600.
  • Associated Press. Killer superbug solution discovered in Norway., December 2009.
  • ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. Antibiotic use in dentistry. J Am Dent Assoc 1997;128:648.
  • Wills A. Why we learn from our mistakes. J Cognitive Neuroscience 2007;19:1163.
  • Pallasch TJ. Antibiotic myths and reality. J Cali Dent Assoc 1986;14:65.

Release date: 24 April 2015
Expiration date: 24 April 2018


Steven Morrow DDS

Having taught future oral health-care professionals at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry since 1965, Steven Morrow, DDS, MS, is currently a professor in the department of endodontics that he chaired from 1987 to 1990. He maintains responsibilities he accepted in 2000 as director of patient care services and clinical quality assurance. He was director, District VI, of the American Association of Endodontists from 1990 to 1993. He has also served as president of the Southern California Academy of Endodontics and as president of the California State Association of Endodontists. In 1997, he earned diplomate status from the American Board of Endodontics. Since 1998, he has been a fellow of the American College of Dentists; and since 2003, he has served on the editorial review board of the Journal of Endodontics. A life member of the American Dental Association, the American Association of Endodontists and the California State Association of Endodontists, he is currently serving his second term as a member of the Dental Board of California.

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