The jigsaw of care essential to tackle dental neglect

The jigsaw of care essential to tackle dental neglect

Dentistry is part of a ‘jigsaw of care’ which is essential to identify and support children at risk of dental neglect and possibly wider neglect, says Claire Stevens, spokesperson for the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry. Her comment was made on BBC Breakfast where she was interviewed about a paper published in the BDJ.

The paper[i] is based on a retrospective audit of 27 children treated for severe dental infection at King’s College Hospital between 2015 and 2017.  More than 50% of the children were between 5-8 years old and eleven of the 27 were already known to social services. The authors recommend that children needing treatment for a severe infection should have their case discussed with the local safeguarding team and possibly referred to social services.

Dr Stevens said that as soon as there were welfare concerns about a child, a phone call would be made at her hospital to the safeguarding team. She said: ”Dentistry needs to be part of a bigger picture which shares information. We are trained to work with all other healthcare professionals. If I have a child who comes in to see me and I have concerns about them I will talk to the GP, I will talk to the health visitor and I will talk to the school nurse. It’s about sharing information.”

Dr Stevens referenced the seminal Child Protection and the Dental Team published twelve years ago which sets out the steps that need to be taken by the dental team should they be concerned about a child’s welfare. The essential guidance identifies that there should be a jigsaw of care which comes together to protect children at risk.

Speaking after the programme, Dr Stevens said: “This BDJ paper throws into sharp relief the risks of untreated dental decay. Children with severe infection are at risk of sepsis and other potentially fatal conditions and need life-saving treatment. We have the guidance, now we need joined up working so that as a society we can identify these children before they need life-saving treatment. Children’s oral health is everyone’s business.”

Jenny Harris, BSPD’s safeguarding authority, said that vulnerable children and young people were often seen in the Community Dental Service, where she has a role. “Safeguarding responsibilities have had a major impact on our work and need to be supported by adequate resources. We would like to see this aspect of our role recognised in all ways so we can continue to drive forward our work in protecting the vulnerable.”

[i] J. Schlabe, M.Kabban, D.Chapireau and K.FanBDJ Volume 225 No.8 October 26th 2018 Paediatric dento-facial infections – a potential tool for identifying children at risk of neglect?

Anthony Kilcoyne
Lack of joined up thinking persists......
Of course Claire Stevens makes some excellent points wrt vulnerable children and how Holistic approaches are needed, because quite frankly we are reactive only when harm or disasters become excessive - true Prevention in the widest sense is just a long off dream still, but why is that ???

Do we hate children as a society? Aren't the Elderly in care homes also suffering neglect?

What about the core of Adults in the middle when say gum diseases are still far too prevalent too ??

In short the diagnosis is simple - widespread dental ignorance of the WHOLE population, due in the main to a lack of basic knowledge - this goes through ALL classes of society too, from Politicians to regulators to Teachers and even our Medical Colleagues, to the 'average' person on the Omnibus !!!

It helps when addressing a fragmented jigsaw, to see the big picture first - we desperately need a national Media Campaign for Dental prevention to reach and inform all, without delay.

Yours diagnostically,



You need to be logged in to leave comments.

Please do not re-register if you have forgotten your details,
follow the links above to recover your password &/or username.
If you cannot access your email account, please contact us.