Domestic violence awareness month

Enhancing Dental Professionals’ Response to Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month 

Violence assessment can save lives. Family violence exists in every city, every neighborhood, and every community. Domestic violence is often a silent cycle of physical, emotional and verbal abuse that leaves victims feeling trapped and helpless. Victims do not know where to turn or how to get help. 

Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. Both men and women are battered by spouses and intimate partners. It is important that all dental professionals are aware of the signs and symptoms of domestic violence. Dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants can play an important role in stopping the cycle of abuse.

Seventy-five (75%) percent of the physical injuries are to the head, neck, and/or mouth. Dental professionals routinely assess the head, neck and mouth areas of their patients and are in a perfect position to identify and treat injuries caused by domestic violence. By assessing for domestic violence and intimate partner violence, in addition to child abuse/neglect and elder abuse/neglect, we can assist our patients in getting help before life-threatening injuries occur. According to a 1998 survey, 9.2 percent of women who sought health care for physical assault by an intimate partner saw a dentist.3 

Domestic violence assessment is as easy as oral cancer assessment. A major focus of dentistry is prevention. Domestic violence assessment can be incorporated into the comprehensive dental examination easily and quickly. Visually scan for signs and symptoms of abuse while examining the patient for oral cancer. Include assessment questions in the patient’s health questionnaire, such as “Are you in a relationship in which you have been physically hurt or threatened?”

Read more:

Domestic Violence Guide for Dental Professionals – view / download pdf here

See also:

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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