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J Am Dent Assoc. 2012 Oct;143(10):1087-92.

Mandatory reporting of oral injuries indicating possible child abuse.

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Tulane Juvenile Law Clinic, Tulane Law School, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA.



The dental professional may see pediatric patients who have signs of intraoral trauma, perioral trauma or both. Evaluation should include the possibility of nonaccidental, deliberately inflicted abuse. Reporting such injuries is mandated.


The authors reviewed the criminal and civil statutes in all 50 states to determine what role dental professionals are required to play in instances of abuse or neglect.


Mandates in all 50 states require that dental professionals be aware of and report instances of child abuse and neglect to the proper state authority. State laws also protect the reporting dental professional from civil retribution.


State laws and dental ethical duties require all dental professionals to be aware of and to report instances of child abuse or neglect. These same laws protect clinicians in this duty. It is the clinician's responsibility to help prevent ongoing injury to people who are incapable of self-protection.


Clinicians should learn to recognize signs of abuse and neglect, which often involve injury to the mouth and dentition. Dental professionals are mandated to report such abuse to state child protection authorities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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