This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of

Kolbe RJ, Madathil SA, Marin LM, Seth R, Faraj N, Allison PJ, Quiñonez C, Glogauer M, Siqueira WL, Siqueira MF. Salivary cortisol and anxiety in Canadian dentists over 1 year of COVID-19. J Dent Res. 2023 Jun 15:220345231178726. doi:

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

A CITF-funded study, published in Journal of Dental Research, reported low rates of psychological distress symptoms among Canadian dentists early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers did find that there was modest positive association between dentists’ stress levels, as measured through saliva hormone cortisol testing, and the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada.  This study was led by Dr. Michelle Siqueira (University of Saskatchewan), and included CITF-funded researchers Drs. Walter Siqueira, Paul Allison, and Sreenath Madathil from McGill University.

Key findings:

  • An increase in the number of COVID-19 cases during the second (January 2021) and fourth (September 2021) waves in Canada was associated with an increase in dentists’ stress, indicated by higher cortisol hormone levels in saliva.
  • The proportion of dentists reporting some impact on stress from three dentistry-related factors (anxiety about treating patients with flu-like symptoms, fear that personal protective equipment (PPE) may not be sufficient, or fear of contracting COVID-19 from patients or coworkers) peaked in January, April, and September 2021, corresponding to the second, third, and fourth waves in Canada.
  • Most dentists throughout the study period were not concerned about the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) or its effectiveness.
  • Overall, anxiety about COVID-19 among dentists decreased consistently throughout the study period.

Understanding the factors that contribute to dentists’ stress and anxiety can help in developing strategies to support their psychological well-being and improve overall dental care delivery in challenging circumstances.

This study included a cohort of 222 practicing dentists across nine provinces in Canada. Researchers collected monthly saliva samples and administered online questionnaires between September 2020 and October 2021. Some self-selection bias may have been present, but the demographic and dental practice characteristics of participants were consistent with the overall population of Canadian dentists.