Dental caries in children: a sign of maltreatment or abuse?
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Dental caries in children: a sign of maltreatment or abuse?

David Heads Specialty registrar in Orthodontics, Birmingham Dental Hospital and Warwick Hospital
John Ahn General dental practitioner, West Kensington Dental Practice, London
Vahe Petrosyan Career development trainee, Oral and maxillofacial surgery, Northampton General Hospital
Helen Petersen Academic clinical lecturer, Oral surgery, University College London Eastman Dental Institute, London
Anthony Ireland Professor of Orthodontics and consultant orthodontist, School of oral and dental sciences, Bristol
Jonathan Sandy Professor of Orthodontics, consultant orthodontist, School of oral and dental sciences, University of Bristol

Nurses are often the first to detect distress in young patients. David Heads and colleagues examine whether tooth decay can be an indicator of neglect

Healthcare professionals are required to complete regular training in safeguarding children and, in this training, dental caries and poor oral hygiene are often cited as potential indicators of neglect. Nurses may be the first healthcare professionals to detect poor oral health in a child, although unfortunately the relationship between neglect and dental caries in children is unclear. Any healthcare professional suspicious of child abuse or neglect has responsibility to follow the appropriate protocol and report their concerns. If dental neglect is suspected then the opinion of a dentist will be required as part of the investigation.

Nursing Children and Young People. 25, 6, 22-24. doi: 10.7748/ncyp2013.


Peer review

This article has been subject to open peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 31 January 2012

Accepted: 09 January 2013

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