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Drug Prescribing for Dentistry

Cover sheet of Drug Prescribing for Dentistry guidancePublished January 2016 (3rd Edition)

Latest update published June 2021 (see below).


Also available as an app, Dental Prescribing.

An accessible version (Word) of the guidance is available.


An update to the guidance, including information on changes to the latest edition of the British National Formulary (BNF 81), was released in June 2021 (see under Downloads above). An update to the Dental Prescribing app was also released in June 2021.

Supporting Tools

An additional document which provides details of the contraindications and cautions which should be taken into account when prescribing analgesics or antibiotics in dental practice is now available (see under Downloads above). Much of the content was originally developed as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic but is now provided as a supplement to the SDCEP Drug Prescribing for Dentistry guidance.

Other supporting tools are available to download below.


How to order printed copies of the Drug Prescribing for Dentistry guidance.

About this guidance

Dental prescribing within the NHS is restricted to drugs included in the Dental Practitioner’s Formulary, which is incorporated within the British National Formulary (BNF) and BNF for Children (BNFC). To facilitate easy access to information that is most relevant to primary care dental practice, Drug Prescribing For Dentistry brings together advice on dental prescribing from the BNF and BNFC and presents it in a problem-orientated style. The information on drug prescribing in this third edition of the guidance is based on BNF 70 and BNFC 2015-16. Advice on drugs used to manage medical emergencies is also provided, based on information provided in BNF 70 and BNFC 2015-16, and guidance published by the National Dental Advisory Committee (NDAC) in 2015. The third edition also includes more comprehensive information on drug interactions and a bacterial infections management guide.

The guidance is suitable for informing dental practitioners in the primary care sector, and applies to all patients, including adults, children and those with special needs, who would normally be treated in this sector. The guidance does not include advice on prescribing for those in a secondary care environment or for practitioners with special expertise who may prescribe a wider range of drugs. The intention is for the guidance to be used in conjunction with the BNF and BNFC.

Guidance development

Drug Prescribing For Dentistry has been developed by a small group of professionals with particular interest and experience in dental prescribing, assisted by our Programme Development Team. The first edition (published in 2008) was subject to widespread consultation and peer review before finalisation of the content for publication. This second and third editions of the guidance were also subject to peer review before publication. Further information about the SDCEP guidance development process is available.

Guidance Development Group

Name Position
David Wray (Chair) Dean and Professor of Oral Medicine, Dubai College of Dental Medicine.
Alex Crighton Consultant in Oral Medicine, Glasgow Dental Hospital and School; member of the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group
Colin Fergusson Community Pharmacist, Glasgow.
Sarah Manton Consultant in Restorative and Special Care Dentistry and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Dundee Dental Hospital and School.
Tracey McFee Speciality Dentist and Honorary Clinical Teacher, Dundee Dental Hospital and School
Stuart McLaren General Dental Practitioner, Rutherglen; Emergency Physician, Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow
Liz Payne Administrator, Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme
Colin Richie Core Trainee 2, University Hospital Crosshouse, Kilmarnock
Samantha Rutherford Research and Development Manager, Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme
Petrina Sweeney Senior Lecturer/Honorary Consultant in Special Care Dentistry, University of Glasgow Dental School.
Robin Thompson General Dental Practitioner, Linlithgow

SDCEP acknowledges the important contribution of all those who commented during the consultation and peer review stages.

Review and updating

A review of all aspects of the context of this guidance (regulations, legislation, trends in working practices and evidence) will take place three years after publication and, if this has changed significantly, the guidance will be updated accordingly. In the interim, the Programme Development Team will monitor significant changes within the BNF and BNFC and provide relevant updates on this website.