Dentists Can Spot The Signs of Domestic Abuse

Dentists are undergoing training so they can spot the signs of domestic abuse.

Our dentists are trained to recognise a whole host of problems. From gum disease and decay, to illnesses such as oral cancers or even diabetes. But Dentists all around the world are being trained to recognise symptoms of abuse. Today on the Defacto Dentists blog, we’re looking at how dentists can spot signs of domestic abuse.

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Dentists can spot the signs of domestic abuse.

A program, titled ‘Domestic violence: recognise, respond and refer’, has been warmly received by dentists and dentistry students all around the world. This programme aims to equip dentists with the tools to help spot and discuss domestic violence with patients. It helps dentists to sensitively and skilfully reach out to patients. Specifically patients who are showing symptoms of abuse.

In training sessions, the dentistry students were given role play scenarios. This allowed them to practice what they should and shouldn’t say to patients.

The programme was originally rolled out in Australia. Amanda Lee Ross, CEO of the Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service, said: ‘We’re not expecting them to be counsellors, that’s not their role.’


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Why is it important that dentists can spot the signs of domestic abuse?

This programme is not designed to make patients feel uncomfortable. It is designed so that dentists can communicate effectively and call out abuse when present. It gives them the skills to approach a difficult subject in an appropriate way.

‘Most people don’t like the dentist. But people who suffer from domestic abuse may be anxious for another reason. This is because of what they have experienced at the hands of others.’

In the UK, similar schemes have been set up to help dental professionals recognise signs of domestic violence. Dentists have been taught to spot the signs of abuse. Commonly, trauma to the head, face and teeth.

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A very serious matter.

Recently, the General Dental Council (GDC) has called on dentists and dental care professionals to know who to contact for advice if they have concerns over potential abuse or neglect. The GDC stated that it is the responsibility of all members of the dental team to know what to do if they are concerned about the possible abuse or neglect of children and vulnerable adults.

If dentists make a professional judgement and decide not to share this information with the appropriate authority, the dentist must be able to justify how they came to this decision.

Striving to make a difference.

A dentist can be the difference between letting abuse continue or putting a stop to it. Dentists are there to provide treatment to our teeth and gums but they will pick up on other problems. Dentists are not there to make patients feel uncomfortable. They are there to spot the signs of domestic abuse and to provide information about where to get help and support.

Where to get help and support for domestic abuse or abuse against children:

National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247

Samaritans – 116 123.

NSPCC – 0808 800 5000

Childline – 0800 1111