Toothaches do not go away. Toothaches do not heal themselves. They require a dentist. In fact, we have been horrified by some of the latest revelations. People are self-treating. And even worse, they are using advice from social media.
It started with the COVID-19 lockdown. However, now a trend is obvious. People are consulting with social media to treating themselves with antibiotics.
According to the studies of the University of Manchester, people are turning to social media for toothache advice. We are sending out the alert. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others are not qualified as dentists.
Social Media and Your Child’s Toothaches
We are scandalized that people are using social media as a treatment plan. Parents and children’s toothaches deserve better. Have you noticed this trend?
- Dr. Wendy Thompson is a dental researcher from the University of Manchester. She states that people with toothaches will go to great lengths to avoid proper treatment.
- Instead of consulting a dentist, they visit social media.
- Also through social media, toothache patients are seeking antibiotics as a cure-all for dental pain.
- And, perhaps worst of all. There are social media websites that actually encourage this type of behavior
Blame it on the Pandemic: Toothaches and Lockdown Backlash
As a researcher, Dr. Thompson has also discovered that dentists increased dental antibiotic prescribing by 25%. By the way, “Internationally, dentists are estimated to be responsible for 10% of all antibiotics prescribed to humans.”
However, this recent trendy social media twist happened during the COVID-19 crisis. This was when the government locked down dental offices.
Dr. Thompson remarked, “While antibiotics do not cure toothache, it is surprising that so many of the social media users used antibiotics for a toothache.”
Toothaches and What Parents Need to Know
Shockingly, Studies in the United Kingdom and the United States have verified that 80% of dental antibiotic use is unnecessary. And it feeds antibiotic resistance. That means the next time you really need an antibiotic, the medicine might be too weak to work for you.
However, in the past, some dentists have prescribed them due to pressure from adult patients. That is why the American Dental Association established guidelines for dentists to avoid over-prescribing antibiotics in 2019.
Excuses, Excuses, and Dangerous Advice from Social Media
On the one hand, some people in the study claimed that they suffered weeks of pain before they could find an available dentist.
On the other hand, many toothache sufferers admitted they simply wanted to avoid dentistry. That was the only reason they were seeking to buy antibiotics from social media sources. Likewise, many expressed fear of the cost of dental treatment as well as the pain.
Does it surprise you to know that people are regularly seeking antibiotics for toothache from non-dental professionals? They buy them from general practitioners, emergency departments, and Internet pharmacies through social media.
Then, they confess to self-medication for their toothaches. Dr. Thompson and her team, including Dr. Rachel Emmott, examined social media over the course of two years. They based their study on a narrow group of search terms, like “antibiotic, dentist, and toothache.”
Deductions from British Study on Social Media and Toothaches
They found the horrific trend stated above. Specifically, Dr. Thompson discovered, “A general belief that antibiotics are an appropriate and necessary treatment for toothache exists.”
They even discovered that many patients registered frustration and disappointment when their doctor did not prescribe antibiotics for their toothaches.” At Dentistry for Children, we will always describe our procedures and recommendations to parents, step by step.
In fact, now, Dentistry for Children is warning you that the idea that antibiotics are always necessary for toothaches is a widespread misconception. Apparently, many parents, both online and in the real world, believe it.
“In Dr. Thompson’s sample of social media users, the misplaced belief that antibiotics are an appropriate treatment for toothache was widespread.”
A Social Media Tour of Toothaches and Excuses
Many of the patients in the sample studied by the dentists had multiple excuses for going to social media instead of real-life dentists.
- “Users attributed their behavior to poor access to professional dental care…”
- Likewise, they admitted they were “avoiding dental appointments because of anxiety…” We are sure Covid Conditions added to this stress.
- Last but not least, the social media users complained of “the perceived affordability of dentistry.”
The researchers also found social media websites with “a range of strategies to cope with the severe impact toothache was having on people’s quality of life.” The strategies varied “from prayer to antibiotics.”
It made us wince at Dentistry for Children when we learned “More than half of the posts portrayed an element of the physical pain.” The pain varied in severity from “agony,” “excruciating,” and “unbearable.”
The Power of Toothaches
It was evident that toothaches can cause a person to feel many things:
1. Often toothache patients write social media about “A feeling of inability to cope.” And they include issues that need to be overcome to continue daily activities…”
2. Their social media posts told the stories of their toothaches. They wrote about losing the ability to drive, go to work, or attend family events. Still, they did not want to go to a professional dentist.
3. She added: “Managing this behavior by addressing people’s expectations and desire for antibiotics to cope with a toothache should be part of our strategy in tackling antibiotic resistance.” In other words, professional dentist’s offices must counteract the myth that antibiotics are a cure-all for toothaches.
Conclusions from the Research Study on Seeking Dental Advice on Social Media: British Conclusions on the Research
First of all, we believe that society would assure us of appropriate professional dental care for all who suffer acute toothache. The researchers put it this way.
Secondly, they added the access must include “people with a fear of dentistry and people on low incomes…”
Then, the British researchers explained a call to action for their society. “Furthermore, the time is now ripe for these important issues for dentistry to be included in the government’s next UK 5-year national action plan on tackling antibiotic resistance.”
Here in the US, The American Dental Association (ADA) announced in 2019 that antibiotics are not recommended for toothaches. In the Journal of the American Dental Association, the ADA reinforced its’ guardianship of “longstanding antibiotic stewardship efforts…” Likewise, it continued its commitment to the U.S. government’s Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge.
What is Antimicrobial Resistance?
To paraphrase, the World Health Organization, antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms change and adapt in defense to exposure to antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics. Therefore, we call the resulting stronger, meaner, microorganisms “super-bugs.”
“As a result, the medicines,” like antibiotics, “become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.” Thus, to avoid creating superbugs, the medical community, now uses antibiotics with great discretion.
Thus, we come back to the issue of prescribing antibiotics to patients with toothaches.
Toothaches and Antibiotics
Sometimes dentists must prescribe antibiotics “to help relieve signs and symptoms and prevent progression to a more serious condition.” However, the new guideline and accompanying systematic review found that healthy adults experiencing a toothache are best served not by antibiotics but by dental treatment…” And they added, “if needed, over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
‘We Do Not Want to Create Super Bugs.
Peter Lockhart, D.D.S. is chair of the ADA expert panel that developed the guideline and research professor at Carolinas Medical Center—Atrium Health. Lockhart explained the position of the ADA on antibiotics. “Antibiotics are, of course, tremendously important medications…” And he added, “However, it’s vital that we use them wisely so that they continue to be effective when absolutely needed.”
Thus the ADA states, “Studies have shown that antibiotics, “don’t necessarily help patients experiencing a toothache. In addition, antibiotics can cause serious side effects, and overuse has resulted in bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics.”
More Conclusions from the Studies
The ADA guideline gives dentists scenarios for justified prescriptions of antibiotics for toothaches. “When dental treatment is not immediately available and the patient has signs and symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, or extreme tiredness, antibiotics may need to be prescribed,” said Dr. Lockhart.
However, he adds, “But in most cases when adults have a toothache and access to dental treatment, antibiotics may actually do more harm than good.”
Our Terrific Takeaways for Toothaches, Antibiotics, and Social Media
And now you know about toothaches and antibiotics from the dental experts, not from social media. We encourage you to trust your dentist and your Dentistry For Children dental home to bring your child the right treatment, at the right time, at the right budget for toothaches. Please do not resort to social media for dental advice on toothaches. We are here for you.