Your role in pharmaceutical dentistry

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  Posted by: Dental Design      14th March 2024

Medication impacts many parts of everyday life, and clinical care would not be the same without the extensive options presented to healthcare professionals and patients alike.

It has become something that many of us do not give a second thought to. We might reach for over-the-counter solutions the minute we feel a headache coming on or look for a quick fix to buy when a cough, cold, or fever surfaces.

Prescription drugs are also commonly talked about in the general and healthcare media. Sometimes this is for good, with new drugs being approved to enhance treatment outcomes for a greater number of vulnerable people.

Other times, stories are shrouded in negativity. Over the past year, Ozempic – the injected prescription drug that is used for type 2 diabetic patients[1] – has stolen headlines following supply issues due to its alternative use as a weight loss aid.[2]Current guidance is clear on the fact that Ozempic should only be prescribed for its designated diabetes treatment.[3] In turn, some individuals have moved on to counterfeit injections, with often unfortunate effects.

Clinicians have an immense responsibility to ensure the public receives the appropriate pharmaceutical products for each relevant situation, and this is no different for dental professionals.

Power of prescription

Pharmaceutical care in the dental field places extreme trust in the clinician, but the capabilities of a professional will depend on the area of dentistry in which they practice.

Those operating through the NHS may only prescribe medicines in the Dental Practitioners’ Formulary on an NHS dental prescription form, or an FP10D,[4] which details a wide range of options for a variety of clinical needs.[5]

Some dental professionals – specifically dental hygienists and therapists – may also be able to manage patient group directions (PGDs).[6] This is an allowance to sell, supply, and/or administer medicines to those who may not have been identified before they presented for treatment. This way professionals can provide some forms of care without the need for a prescription or instruction from a prescriber.[7] Generally, this will include fluoride supplements or toothpastes with a high fluoride content, or even local anaesthesia in some cases.[8]

Private treatment differs concerning prescriptions. Any medicine may be prescribed and sold or supplied, but a practitioner must first ensure they are competent in the relevant area of care. Be aware, that private patients should not be prescribed medicines on NHS prescriptions.4

Each patient must be considered carefully when prescribing medicines for dental treatments. A variety of mistakes can be made, depending on the individual’s needs. These include an incorrect dose or strength, dosage form, a clash with a known allergen or contraindication, or even incorrect patient actions as a result of improper education or instruction.[9] Clinicians must take extensive care to avoid preventable issues such as these and communicate with patients and other professionals to ensure the correct form of medication is given and administered reliably.

Safe dispose

Medicines must also be managed with care when they are sent to waste. Without diligent measures in place, pharmaceutical waste could harm the wider world around us.

Pharmaceuticals that end up in the environment pose a potential threat in the long-term. Whilst the evidence suggests that trace levels of pharmaceuticals in drinking water – which can be a result of improper disposal  – are unlikely to pose a risk to general health, they say that there are gaps in our current knowledge about extended exposures and the combined effects of medicines and other compounds.[10]

As well as this, medicinal products that fall under the broader classes of antibiotics, analgesics and antineoplastics have been found to harbour a potential environmental risk, with antibiotics, in particular, posing a threat to algae and plants.[11] They can accumulate in soil, have a tendency to reach groundwater and, perhaps most troublingly, can contribute to microbial antibiotic resistance over time.11

It’s for reasons such as these that the General Dental Council (GDC) demands dental practices make arrangements for the safe disposal of medicines, as well as the handling of patient returns and expired medicines. This should be segregated from all other medicines in use.4

 Services you can trust

The GDC also states that practices should have a contract with a licensed clinical waste management company, which will collect unwanted medicines and appliances and ensure they are disposed of correctly.4 This would fulfill the need for comprehensive and considered pharmaceutical management.

Finding the right solution for your practice is essential. Initial Medical offers expert waste management services and can help to ensure that your dental practice is regulation-compliant and environmentally friendly.

UN-approved, blue pharmaceutical bins are made available for the clear segregation of pharmaceutical waste in your practice, which can be collected by the Initial Medical team for reliable management and disposal. Initial Medical is committed to environmentally friendly solutions and ensures pharmaceutical waste will pose minimal risk to general health and the world around us.

Pharmaceutical solutions are essential in today’s dental landscape. With knowledgeable clinicians safely prescribing medicines to patients, and being aware of the need for effective wasting procedures, many of the headaches surrounding the topic can be effectively eased.

To find out more, get in touch at 0808 304 7411 or visit the website today

About Initial Medical

Initial Medical set the standard in healthcare and infectious waste management in the UK, providing a reliable, effective and fully compliant service built around customer needs and delivered by our highly trained local teams.  We are ISO 9001:2015 accredited, with technology fully integrated into our operations, providing full traceability of service delivery, electronic waste documentation and the best customer experience possible. We also offer innovative healthcare waste management services and infection control products, to help break the chain of transmission and prevent cross contamination.  

Initial Medical are a company with a ‘World Class’ Health and Safety record, and ISO 45001:2018 accreditation. We are also accredited to ISO 14001:2015 environmental standards, and pride ourselves on our sustainable approach with a focus on delivering eco-friendly products and operational solutions.

Rebecca Waters, Category Manager, Initial Medical

Rebecca has worked in the Healthcare sector for the past 17years and was a Research Chemist with Bayer Cropscience prior to joining Rentokil Initial in 2003.  She keeps up to date on all developments within the clinical waste management industry and is an active member of the CIWM, SMDSA and BDIA.  

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[1] Ghoshal, M., Westphalen, D., (2023). Ozempic: Overview, Off-Label Use for Weight Loss, How It Works, and More. Healthline. (Online) Available at: [Accessed January 2024]

[2] Fairclough, S., (2023). Ozempic shortage hits diabetes patient after weight loss use. BBC News. (Online) Available at: [Accessed January 2024]

[3] Department of Health and Social Care, (2023). Accessing Wegovy for weight loss: Everything you need to know. (Online) Available at: [Accessed January 2024]

[4] Care Quality Commission, (2023). Dental mythbuster 35: medicines management in dental practices. (Online) Available at: [Accessed January 2024]

[5] National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, (N.D). Dental Practitioners’ Formulary. (Online) Available at: [Accessed January 2024]

[6] The Human Medicines Regulations 2012, Schedule 16. (Online) Available at:[Accessed January 2024]

[7] Specialist Pharmacy Service, (2020). An introduction to PGDs: definitions and examples of use. (Online) Available at: [Accessed January 2024]

[8] General Dental Council, (2020). Guidance on Direct Access. (Online) Available at: file:///Users/pr/Downloads/direct-access-guidance.pdf[Accessed January 2024]

[9] Tariq, R. A., Vashisht, R., Sinha, A., & Scherbak, Y. (2018). Medication dispensing errors and prevention.

[10] AstraZeneca, (2022). Pharmaceuticals in the Environment. (Online) Available at: [Accessed January 2024]

[11] Küster, A., & Adler, N. (2014). Pharmaceuticals in the environment: scientific evidence of risks and its regulation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences369(1656), 20130587.

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