Dental Abscess in Pediatric Patients: A Marker of Neglect

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Abstract

Objectives

Neglect is defined as the persistent failure to meet a child or young person's basic physical or psychological needs. Dental caries is explicitly mentioned in guidance on child maltreatment. We discuss the link between dental caries and child abuse in patients presenting to the emergency department.

Methods

A review of patient medical records was undertaken within the Paediatric Emergency Department at Sunderland Royal Hospital, with the aim to determine whether neglect was considered as a possible contributory factor when a child or young person presented at triage with an “oral cavity” problem.

Results

Of the applicable cases with inferences of possible safeguarding concerns, 13% had these concerns documented.

Conclusions

Child abuse recognition has become a prominent issue in recent years due to high profile cases. It is clear from this work, which resonates with the reported literature, that there is a lack of recognition of dental neglect being a possible indicator of more systemic abuse.

Conclusions

There is likely underreporting of these cases to the relevant authorities.

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