Abuse is intentional maltreatment. Abuse may result in
injuries, especially in children, in vulnerable adults, and among
Most mouth and dental injuries are not caused by abuse.
Mouth and dental injuries are common in children and occur from falls,
playground accidents, athletic activities, fights, and automobile
Suspect abuse when:
An injury cannot be explained or does not match
Repeated injuries occur, including lacerations or
abrasions to the mouth, lips, or gums.
Explanations change for how
the injury happened.
A baby or young child has a tear to the piece
of skin (frenulum) between the lips and gums or the tongue and the floor of the
mouth. This can occur when a caregiver jams an object (such as a bottle or
spoon) into the mouth or by sexual abuse.
If you suspect abuse, call your local child or adult
protective agency, police, clergy, or a health professional such as a doctor,
dentist, nurse, or counselor. If you suspect child abuse, you may also contact
the National Child Abuse Hotline and Referral Service toll-free at
1-800-422-4453. You may be able to prevent further abuse by reporting the
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How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.