More focus needed on mental health of dental professionals, review finds

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A review led by English researchers has shown that dentists suffer an increased level of stress and burnout—but not enough is known about their colleagues in the wider dental team.

Written by a group from the University of Plymouth in collaboration with the University of Southampton, the rapid evidence assessment analysed research from the last 14 years on mental health in dental professionals.

The review—published in Community Dental Health—was commissioned by the General Dental Council to better understand the extent to which dental professionals experience mental health problems and the conditions that contribute to mental and emotional distress.

The work concluded that dentists suffer an increased level of stress and burnout, particularly general dental practitioners, with litigation and regulation the main stressors. It also noted an increase in the number of dentists showing signs of burnout over the 14-year period.

However, the review showed there is little or no research on the wellbeing of dental care professionals, such as dental nurses, dental hygienists and dental therapists.

The review also showed a lack of research or evaluation on mental health support interventions with dental professionals in mind—and lead author, Anastasios Plessas from Peninsula Dental School at the University of Plymouth, hoped that the review would inspire more work in the area.

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