The Dentists' Role in Child Abuse and Neglect Intervention

In order to properly comply with the legal mandate for all health professionals to report suspected cases of child maltreatment, dentists must be cognizant of their responsibilities as outlined by the American Dental Association (ADA).7 These responsibilities include:

  • To observe and examine any suspicious evidence that can be ascertained in the office.
  • To record, per legal and court rules, any evidence that may be helpful in the case, including physical evidence and any comments from questioning or interviews.
  • To treat any dental or orofacial injuries within the treatment expertise of the dentist, referring more extensive treatment needs to a hospital or dental/medical specialist.
  • To establish/maintain a professional therapeutic relationship with the family.
  • To become familiar with the perioral signs of child abuse and neglect and to report suspected cases to the proper authorities consistent with state law.