An observational cross-sectional survey was planned to analyze the weekly workload reduction of German dentists during lockdown due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were predominantly members of the Free Association of German Dentists and filled in an online questionnaire. The questionnaire was sent to a total of 9416 dentists, with a response rate of 27.98% (n = 2635). Respondents were divided into seven macro areas by gross domestic product. Nearly two-thirds of dentists (65.16%) reported a reduction in their practice workload of more than 50% compared to the pre-pandemic period with statistically significant differences between German macro areas (p < 0.01). Weekly workload was reduced during the lockdown in 93.00% of study participants, while 55.33% dental care centers with multiple employed dentists under the direction of a non-dentist general manager had only a 40% reduction in weekly workload compared to a solo practice or a practice of a dentist with an employed dentist (30.24% and 28.39%, respectively). Dentists in Germany drastically reduced their practice activity during the first wave of the COVID-19 lockdown, both in rural and urban areas. Short, medium, and long-term effects of the pandemic on dental practices, dental staff as well as patient care need to be further investigated.
Keywords: COVID-19; Germany; SARS-CoV-2; dental practice; dentist; economic; global pandemic; reduction; workload.