The dentist's role in the child abuse: diagnosis and report.

Manuela Crespo, David Andrade, Ana La-Salete Alves, Teresa Magalhães


Child Abuse is a frequent problem worldwide that surpasses ethnicity, religion, culture, economic and social classes. In the United States of America child protective services account, per year, over one million cases of child abuse or neglect. In Portugal, the incidence of the problem is unknown but each year thousands of abused children are accompanied by the Commissions for the Protection of Children and Youth at Risk. This abuse threatens children's physical, emotional and intellectual development, as well as their dignity, security, well-being and even their own lives. The body regions most frequently affected in physical abuse, are the cranium, neck and orofacial region, in fact, about 50% of the injuries arising from child abuse occur in the orofacial region. These data place the dentist in a privileged position to make the detection, diagnosis and report of child abuse. Therefore, these professionals must be prepared to recognize, diagnose and report their suspicions to the appropriate authorities, which play a key role in victims protection and criminal investigation. This review intends to stress the important role of the dentist in the detection, diagnosis and report of child abuse, systematizing child abuse risk factors and indicators essential to the intervention of these professionals. This problem's approach is multidisciplinary, involving particularly dentists, who must obtain continuing education and training in this area.

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