Child Protection Evidence - Oral injuries

Child Protection Evidence is a resource available for clinicians across the UK and internationally to inform clinical practice, child protection procedures and professional and expert opinion in the legal system. This review evaluates the literature on abusive and non-abusive oral injuries.

Review updated: June 2014

About the review

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 that you read all of the relevant references as cited and look for additional material published outside of our search dates.

The systematic review evaluates the scientific literature on spinal injuries published up until June 2014.

It aims to answer the following clinical question: 

  • Is a torn labial frenum diagnostic of physical child abuse?
  • What other intra-oral injuries are caused by physical abuse to children?

The first clinical question explores whether a torn labial frenum (often referred to as frenulum or phrenum) is pathognomonic of abuse, whilst the second question looks at other abusive oral injuries and their features. 

The implications for practice and research, and other useful references are included in the review.

Key findings

  • Evidence to date indicates a child with a torn frenum should undergo a full child protection evaluation  but if no other injuries nor any social concerns are identified, the presence of a torn frenum alone is not diagnostic of physical abuse.
  • The update in 2014 identified an important study comparing injuries during intubation to abusive injuries. Further literature recently picked up in our searches highlighted the significance of oral injuries as sentinel injuries for severe abuse, present in 11% of cases, and tribal practices, including removal of the “killer” canine. 

Systematic review on Oral Injuries (PDF, 201KB, 22 Pages)

 

Disclaimer: This 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.

Original reviews and content © Cardiff University, funded by NSPCC
Published by RCPCH July 2017

While the format of each review has been revised to fit the style of the College and amalgamated into a comprehensive document, the content remains unchanged until reviewed and new evidence is identified and added to the evidence-base. Updated content will be indicated on individual review pages.