Victims of childhood sexual abuse may face difficulty in keeping dental care appointments as some experiences in the dentist's office may trigger unpleasant memories of the abuse experience and such victims may skip dental care appointments. This was the result of a study reported in the latest issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).
The study, conducted by a team of Canadian researchers, also notes that treating victims of childhood sex abuse can present unique challenges for dentists and dental office staff members.
Researchers said that it is not difficult to see the parallels between some aspects of the abuse experience and elements of dental care. Patients are expected to trust the professional to do what is best for them. The professional often assures them, much as the abusers did, that while the experience may be painful or unpleasant, in the end it will be good for them.
Based at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, the research team privately interviewed 49 men and 19 women; they also interviewed another nine men in a group setting. All 77 subjects were self-described victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Quoting figures on the prevalence of childhood sex abuse, researchers speculate that dentists probably see patients who were abused "several times a week."
The JADA study notes that because dentists are likely to treat, "knowingly or unknowingly," victims of childhood sex abuse, "it is important for the dental team to gain some insights about how they can work with these patients more effectively."