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Parent/carer characteristics of children with 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.


Failure / delay in seeking dental treatment

  • Each of these studies recorded a delay in seeking appropriate dental treatment 1,2,4,6-11
  • The reasons varied, including domestic violence 1
  • The children’s symptoms varied, but are well documented in one study 4
  • A comparison of children undergoing dental extraction under general anaesthetic had an over representation of dental neglect with significantly more children having missed or cancelled appointments and visits with acute pain. It is notable that very few children were referred to social services 6


Failure to follow the dental advice given

  • Failure to adhere to the recommended treatment plan was the primary characteristic which highlighted the neglect this child was suffering 7
  • In other instances, this formed one of a number of features of neglect 1-4,8,10,11


Failure to provide basic oral care

  • While developing a dental neglect scale for children, one control study highlighted inadequate tooth brushing and cariogenic snack behaviour 10
  • Other studies documented inadequate oral hygiene 1,3,5,9


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  1. Blumberg, ML, Kunken FR. The dentist's involvement with child abuse. The New York State Dental Journal. 1981;47(2) 65-69. [Pubmed citation only]
  2. Butts AC, Henderson LM. Navajo Indian dental neglect intervention program. Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association. 1990;70(1):42-45. [Pubmed citation only]
  3. Elice CE, Fields HW. Failure to thrive: review of the literature, case reports, and implications for dental treatment. Pediatric Dentistry. 1990;12(3):185-189. [Pubmed]
  4. Fakhruddin KS, Lawrence HP, Kenny DJ, Locker D. Impact of treated and untreated dental injuries on the quality of life of Ontario school children. Dental Traumatology. 2008;24(3):309-313. [Pubmed]
  5. Kivistö K, Alapulli H, Tupola S, Alaluusua S, Kivitie-Kallio S. Dental health of young children prenatally exposed to buprenorphine. A concern of child neglect? European Archives of Pediatric Dentistry. 2014;15(3):197-202 [Pubmed]

  6. Kvist T, Zedrén-Sunemo J, Graca E, Dahllöf G. Is treatment under general anaesthesia associated with dental neglect and dental disability among caries active preschool children? European Archives of Pediatric Dentistry. 2014;15(5):327-332 [Pubmed]

  7. Loochtan RM, Bross DC, Domoto PK. Dental neglect in children: definition, legal aspects, and challenges. Pediatric Dentistry. 1986;8(1 Spec No): 113-116. [Pubmed citation only]
  8. Mansour ON, Bagesund M. Reasons for extractions, and treatment preceding caries-related extractions in 3-8 year-old children. European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry. 2010;11(3):122-130. [Pubmed]
  9. Montecchi PP, Di Trani M, Sarzi Amadè D, Bufacchi C, Montecchi F, Polimeni A. The dentist's role in recognizing childhood abuses: study on the dental health of children victims of abuse and witnesses to violence. European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry. 2009;10(4):185-187.[Pubmed]
  10. Thomson WM, Spencer AJ, Gaughwin A. Testing a child dental neglect scale in South Australia. Community Dentistry & Oral Epidemiology. 1996;24(5):351-356. [Pubmed]
  11. Von Kaenel D, Vitangeli D, Casamassimo PS, Wilson S, Preisch J. Social factors associated with pediatric emergency department visits for caries-related dental pain. Pediatric Dentistry. 2001;23(1):56-60. [Pubmed]







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