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Dentists can help stop domestic violence, Phoenix researcher finds

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Researchers are learning how dentists can be the first line of defense against domestic violence.

Dentists can identify patients with severe blows to the head, neck and face.

“Unlike the cheeks, where you may be able to put on foundation or other types of cover up, you’re not going to be able to cover those up inside the mouth,” said Jonathan Lifshitz, director of the Translational Neurotrauma Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

He adds that even hygienists can identify wounds to gums and teeth — old and new — stemming from abuse.

Lifshitz hopes dental care providers can keep this at front of mind, “and then refer to the appropriate resources that may be necessary to overcome the issues that are associated with domestic violence.”

Lifshitz said half of domestic violence victims suffer traumatic brain injuries.

“As a society, we just need to be on alert and aware of individuals who can benefit from health care provisions that will help them overcome any adversity in their life,” he said.

His team’s findings have been published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma.

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