Half of dental nurses say mental health has worsened since pandemic

More than half of dental nurses – and two in five dental hygienists and dental therapists – say their mental health is worse now than during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, over a third of dental hygienists and therapists are considering their future in the dental profession due to their mental wellbeing concerns. This is the same for nearly half of dental nurses, with 40% saying they are also pessimistic about the future.

These were the results from a Dental Protection survey involving 1,300 UK dental professionals.

A dental nurse participant said: ‘The pressure on the dental teams over the last year has become massive. The slating from the media really puts a negative perspective on all we’re trying to do for patients!’

Another dental nurse said they feel overwhelmed by the need to meet patient and clinician expectations with little support and time.

In addition, a dental hygienist who participated in the survey said: ‘I’m now 58. In a way I’m glad I don’t have a long career in dental hygiene ahead of me.

‘Most patients have been understanding but the frustration of lack of appointments is beginning to creep in and they are becoming increasingly less understanding. You have to explain the situation to them more. There is certainly a change in atmosphere since the pandemic.’

‘Exceptionally tough time’

Dr Yvonne Shaw is deputy dental director at Dental Protection. She said: ‘The pandemic created an exceptionally tough time for dentistry, and we know that many practices are still grappling with the aftermath. It is hugely concerning that so many dental professionals who endured the challenges of the pandemic feel that their mental wellbeing is worse off today.

‘We all have a part to play in supporting the dental team and looking to restore optimism and purpose in the profession. Many practices offered wellbeing support to dental teams during the pandemic. Wherever possible, this should continue.

‘I would also encourage members facing mental wellbeing concerns to make use of our 24/7 counselling service and other wellbeing support which is a benefit of membership with Dental Protection. The service is provided through a third-party partner and is completely confidential.’

What are your thoughts on this story? Has your mental wellbeing become worse since the pandemic? Share your thoughts to [email protected].

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