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Dental Neglect

The following is a summary of the systematic review findings up to the date of our most recent literature search. If you have a specific clinical case, we strongly recommend you read all of the relevant references as cited and look for additional material published outside our search dates.


Review last updated in November 2014


While varying definitions of dental neglect exist, they broadly encompass “the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic oral health needs, which is likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s oral or general health and development” 1. However, many authors have identified a lack of confidence among dental practitioners in defining dental neglect in an individual child 2,3.  Two new studies in 2014 have addressed dental neglect among pre-school children, including antenatal neglect and its impact on dentition.  There has been increasing interest in the oral features of children experiencing other forms of maltreatment, and the impact of dental neglect on children 4.



The review seeks to answer the following review question:

1. What are the parent/carer characteristics of a child with dental neglect, and what oral features are present in these children?

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  1. Harris JC, Balmer RC, Sidebotham PD. British Society of Paediatric Dentistry: a policy document on dental neglect in children. International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry. 2009. [Epub ahead of print]. [Early view - 14 May 2009, Wiley Online Library]
  2. Cairns AM, Mok JY, Welbury RR. The dental practitioner and child protection in Scotland. British Dental Journal. 2005;199(8):517-520. [Pubmed]
  3. Al-Habsi SA, Roberts GJ, Attari N, Parekh S. A survey of attitudes, knowledge and practice of dentists in London towards child protection. Are children receiving dental treatment at the Eastman Dental Hospital likely to be on the child protection register? British Dental Journal. 2009;206(4):E7. [Pubmed]
  4. Piovesan C, Antunes JL, Mendes FM, Guedes RS, Ardenghi TM. Influence of children's oral health-related quality of life on school performance and school absenteeism. Journal of Public Health Dentistry. 2012;72(2):156-63 [Pubmed]


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