Dental Trends

Dental visits and domestic violence.

July 07, 2017

Many healthcare professionals are on the front lines in the fight against domestic violence. While examining patients, they are in a unique position to ask screening questions and detect evidence of physical or emotional trauma.

Some medical professionals have even considered mandatory continuing education on how to spot the telltale signs of domestic violence. According to a recent article published by Stat, activist groups are also pushing for similar training in the dental profession.

One group in Maryland—the Mid-Atlantic P.A.N.D.A (prevent abuse and neglect through dental awareness)—created a course to train dentists and hygienists in the detection of abuse and neglect. They’ve also been active in lobbying Maryland state officials to make the training mandatory.

Since 2015, Maryland has required dentists to take 2 hours of continuing education on abuse and neglect in order to renew their license. Dental professionals from other states such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee have pushed for similar mandates.

Dentists and hygienists are uniquely suited to detect signs of abuse and neglect because they typically see patients twice a year, more often than the standard medical checkup allows. What’s more, a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Associationfound that 94.4% of domestic violence victims had head, neck, or facial injuries, right where the dentists or hygienist can easily detect them.

Have you ever detected signs of domestic abuse in a patient? What was your reaction?