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Maternal and Child Health Bureau logoA Health Professionals Guide to Pediatric Oral Health Management
HomeModuleModule 1: An Introduction to Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 2: Managing Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 3: Oral Conditions and AbnormalitiesModule 4: Prevention of Oral DiseaseModule 5: Non-Nutritive Sucking HabitsModule 6: Oral InjuryModule 7: Infants and Young Children with Special Health Care NeedsContentsGlossaryEvaluationHelp
Module 6: Oral Injury
Module Contents
Overview
6.1 Injury Prevention
Anticipatory Guidance
6.2 Child Abuse and Neglect (current page)
6.3 Injury Types and Consequences
Injury Types
Injury Consequences
6.4 Managing Oral Injuries
Avulsed Teeth
Key Points
Post-Test
References
Additional Resources



6.2 Child Abuse and Neglect

Fact
exclamation point graphicPhysical abuse, sexual abuse, and dental neglect are all forms of child abuse or neglect that can be manifested in the mouth.

 

Dental trauma may be an important marker for child abuse because craniofacial, head, face, and neck injuries occur in more than half of the cases of child abuse. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, and dental neglect are all forms of child abuse or neglect that can be manifested in the mouth.[4]

Trauma in children is often caused by an adult violently striking the child’s lips and teeth with the back of the hand or with an implement. If the motion is sweeping and upward, the maxillary frenum may be torn, and the lips and/or teeth may be damaged. The child may have bruised or lacerated lips, torn frenum, and/or discolored and fractured or missing teeth. Because children speak and cry through the mouth, child abuse is often directed at the mouth.[1]

Health professionals must report suspected child abuse and neglect. Each state is responsible for providing its own definition of child abuse and neglect that meets federal minimum standards found in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.[5] The Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides an array of products related to state civil laws on child abuse and neglect. See the agency’s state statutes Web page at http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/.

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