13 December 2011

    Q. If a dentist writes a prescription in the patients notes to supply high concentration fluoride toothpaste, which is then dispensed and sold at reception, how long does this prescription last? Just one tube or can the patient purchase more in the future?

    High concentration fluoride toothpaste toothpastes are a prescription only medicine (POM) and therefore do have to be prescribed by a doctor or a dentist to an individual patient. As the situation currently stands hygienists and therapists are not permitted to provide such a prescription to a patient, although they may of course provide advice and instructions to the patient on their use.

    A prescription for any medicine prescribed under the NHS or privately is valid for six months from the date on that prescription. The only exception to this is for a prescription for medicines that are controlled under the misuse of drugs legislation where the period is considerably shorter. High concentration fluoride toothpaste does not fall under this category.

    Repeat prescriptions are allowed for “drugs” that can be dispensed more than once, but again the date on the prescription is only valid for six months. I think however a dentist would likely be criticised for continuing to provide high concentration fluoride toothpaste for a patient without reassessing the patient.

    As for what is written on that prescription this is very much up to the individual clinician. If for example the prescription simply indicates a single tube of high concentration fluoride toothpaste, then that is all that may be dispensed. When the patient has finished that tube they can return to the practice for a repeat prescription. Whether an additional supply is issued is very much up to the individual clinician.

    The patient however may not obtain a prescription only medicine without having a valid prescription irrespective of the circumstances.

    Details of the 5,000 ppm Colgate Duraphat product can be found here

    The Cochrane Review comparing the prevention offered by different concentrations in fluoride toothpaste is here

    Dental Protection Limited is registered in England (No. 2374160) and is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Medical Protection Society Limited (MPS) which is registered in England (No.36142). Both companies use Dental Protection as a trading name and have their registered office at 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PS.

    Dental Protection Limited serves and supports the dental members of MPS with access to the full range of benefits of membership, which are all discretionary, and set out in MPS’s Memorandum and Articles of Association. MPS is not an insurance company. Dental Protection® is a registered trademark of MPS.

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