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​About this resource

'Child protection and the dental team: an introduction to safeguarding children in dental practice' is an educational resource, hosted by the British Dental Association from 2016. First published in 2006, the handbook and equivalent website were commissioned and funded by the Department of Health for dental teams working in primary care in England and were developed and produced by an expert group (see below) in association with the South Yorkshire and East Midlands Regional Postgraduate Dental Deanery and the Committee of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors (UK). A copy of the handbook was sent to all NHS practices in England in May/June 2006. Separate distribution arrangements applied in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The project began in 2005 by identifying concerns and learning needs by consultation with interested specialist societies and staff groups. Responses were used to develop new material for dental practice use. Practical recommendations and documentation were tested in the field by two dental teams: a general dental practice and a salaried primary dental care service. The draft handbook was critically read by colleagues from varied backgrounds in dentistry, medicine, nursing and social services and amended in the light of their comments.

An evaluation of its use and impact on practice was published in the British Dental Journal in 2011.41 The handbook was reprinted with minor amendments in 2007 and 2009 and the website was fully updated in 2013.

To cite this resource as a reference in a scientific publication please use as follows:

Harris J, Sidebotham P, Welbury R, Townsend R, Green M, Goodwin J, Franklin C. Child protection and the dental team: an introduction to safeguarding children in dental practice. Sheffield: Committee of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors (COPDEND) UK, 2006. www.cpdt.org.uk

Chief Dental Officer’s Foreword (2006)

Few can fail to have noticed the sad, and all too frequent, news stories of children who are abused or neglected. Health, education and social services are placing increasing emphasis on preventing abuse and neglect by early intervention to support families where children and young people may be at risk. The dental team, like all other health professionals, has a part to play which has been highlighted by the General Dental Council in its revised guidance “Standards for Dental Professionals”.

Every day many hundreds of children visit the dentist. Our profession is recognised as being well placed to notice children with signs of maltreatment. By working together with other professionals involved in child protection we can make a positive contribution to the welfare of children, above and beyond their oral health.

If you are a dental professional this resource aims to equip you to recognise the presenting features of child abuse. It will help you understand your responsibilities and the action you should take if you have concerns about a child. It includes simple practical measures to incorporate into everyday practice to help your dental team safeguard children.

I congratulate all the authors and also all who have contributed advice, ideas and examples of good practice to this primary-care led project.

Barry Cockcroft
Acting Chief Dental Officer - England

Expert group (2005-06)

Jenny Harris BDS MSc FDSRCS (Project lead: 2004 - present)
Specialist in Paediatric Dentistry, South East Sheffield PCT

Peter Sidebotham MBChB MRCP FRCPCH MSc
Senior Lecturer in Child Health, University of Warwick

Professor of Paediatric Dentistry, Glasgow Dental School, University of Glasgow

Ranee Townsend BSc BDS MA
Joint Clinical Director, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster Community Dental Service, Rotherham PCT

General Dental Practitioner, Tiverton, and Regional Adviser in General Dental Practice for the South West

Janet Goodwin BA(Hons) RDN
Qualifications Manager, National Exam Board for Dental Nurses

Chris Franklin BDS PhD FDSRCS FRCPath
Regional Postgraduate Dental Dean, South Yorkshire and East Midlands

Updates (2012-13)

Jenny Harris BDS MSc FDSRCS FDS(Paed Dent)
Consultant in Community Paediatric Dentistry, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Chris Franklin OBE BDS PhD FDSRCS FRCPath
Regional Postgraduate Dental Dean South Yorkshire and East Midlands and immediate past-Chair of COPDEND (UK)

with an additional contribution from:

Catherine Ellis MSc RGN RM RHV
Assistant Clinical Professor Child Health, University of Warwick


Many colleagues generously gave their time and expertise to contribute to this project in 2005-6, either as individuals or as representatives of their organisations, specialist societies and dental team staff groups. The authors would like to thank them all, especially:

  • Members of the Rotherham PCT Dental Neglect Working Group and Gill Earl, NSPCC Training and Consultancy for challenging and inspiring us at the start

  • The staff of Ferham Dental Clinic, Rotherham and Castle View Dental Practice, Tiverton for providing insight into the practicalities of safeguarding children in dental practice

  • Dr Claire Elcock for research support

  • Professor Geoff Craig, Daryl Dugdale, Dr Stephen Fayle, Dr Janice Fiske MBE, Dr Joan Garlick, Susan Green, Dr Katherine Lines, Dr Jacqueline Mok, Dr Lawrence Mudford, Juliet Norman, Dr Charles Ormond, Dr Vic Tuck and Dr Susan Ward for critically reading and commenting on the draft document. Their varied backgrounds in dentistry, medicine, nursing and social services were reflected in their helpful suggestions which enhanced the accuracy and usefulness of this material

  • The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s Child Protection Standing Committee and the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry for their enthusiastic support

  • Dental Protection Limited and the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) for their valuable input

  • Software of Excellence for developing the custom record keeping screen

  • The colleagues who kindly tested the website during development and provided helpful feedback


The ‘Child Protection and the Dental Team’ handbook and website are intended as a guide only. Every effort has been made to ensure that the advice given is factually accurate, evidence-based where evidence exists, and compatible with current guidance and legislation. It is not a substitute for appropriate legal advice. It should be used with clinical judgement and in conjunction with locally agreed multi-agency child protection procedures and the ethical standards guidance appropriate to your professional role. It complements but does not replace the need for local child protection training. COPDEND and the authors can take no responsibility for any actions taken based on the information contained in this educational resource.

Policy and procedures are stated for England. Those working in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should be aware that differences may exist and are advised to use this resource in conjunction with locally available guidance. Additional information for Scotland and Wales can be accessed from the downloads section.


You may adapt the downloadable documents, 'Documents 1 to 8', with local information for your own individual dental practice use. Please include the following acknowledgement: 'Adapted from Harris J, Sidebotham P, Welbury R et al, Child protection and the dental team: an introduction to safeguarding children in dental practice, COPDEND: Sheffield, 2006 www.cpdt.org.uk.'

The majority of images on this site are provided by the authors. These may be used with appropriate acknowledgement for private study and educational non-profit purposes for the benefit of children. Suggested wording for acknowledgement is as follows, 'Figure reproduced from Harris J, Sidebotham P, Welbury R et al, Child protection and the dental team: an introduction to safeguarding children in dental practice, COPDEND: Sheffield, 2006 www.cpdt.org.uk'

For all other purposes, including publication, requests should be addressed to: cpd.hub@bda.org giving full details of the intended use.

Please note we are unable to grant permission for use of images which we have used with acknowledgement to other sources. Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland.