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04 April 2022

What impact has the Covid-19 pandemic had on the mental health of dentists?

Lara Figini

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on dentistry affecting almost all aspects of the profession. The workload has changed significantly, as has the way patients are treated and financial worries have increased. Clinical procedures have had to adapt to the various changes brought about by COVID-19; starting with enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE) becoming the norm, to the need for very frequent air changes and "fallow periods" after the procedures for generating aerosols and increased requirements for decontamination; all maneuvers that have now become routine. But how many psychological repercussions have dentists had as a result of pandemic stress and how have they reacted?

Materials and Methods
In a study, published in the British Dental Journal in January 2022, the authors assessed the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic may have had on their mental health, as well as understanding the levels of stress that the pandemic has caused and the methods adopted to "survive".

82% of respondents said that stress levels in the dental team during the pandemic increased significantly. Three quarters of respondents said they went to work despite not feeling 100% psychologically. The working conditions and financial pressures caused by the pandemic have had a direct impact on the mental health of many dentists, developing both adaptive and maladaptive "coping methods" to cope with the stress of the pandemic, with over a third of respondents saying to drink alcohol more frequently than before the pandemic.

From the data of this study, which must be confirmed in other similar studies, it can be concluded that the inter-relationships between dentists and their patients and their colleagues were strongly influenced by the pandemic, as well as their working conditions were largely influenced by contributing to significantly increase your stress levels.

Clinical implications
Given the increased level of stress resulting from the pandemic, many dentists have reacted during this period by making greater use of alcohol and nicotine products, as well as other dentists have preferred adaptive coping methods such as walking and mindfulness. The impact of the pandemic has also affected the quality of sleep for dentists, helping to make the working day even more complicated. Without significant improvements in dentists' working conditions, and without ongoing psychological support, large-scale burnout in the future is not only possible, but likely.

For additional information: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of dentists in Wales 

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