Dear BDJ Team,

We at the Child Protection Company would like to thank SJF Wright of Glasgow Dental Hospital & School for writing in with this valuable addition to our previous dental safeguarding article (Essential safeguarding tactic, BDJ Team May 2019

Dental teams are expected to keep up to date with the medical history of patients but there is typically less emphasis placed on social history-taking. Conversely, in terms of safeguarding, social history-taking can actually reveal a lot about the potential for risk in a patient's life.

As evidenced in SJF Wright's letter, when paired with other information a patient may disclose to us, asking a simple question like, 'Who lives at home with you?' can help dental professionals to build a strong picture of the patient's home life and any other individuals who may be at risk.

However, even without any extra information, a simple question like this can still reveal valuable insight. The Child Protection Company's Carol Blomfield discussed this in one of the British Dental Association (BDA) dental safeguarding training sessions at the BDA Wimpole Street Headquarters last year, where we conduct regular face-to-face training for dental professionals. Carol explained how keeping a record of patients' answers to questions like this can help us to gain perspective over time.

For example, multiple partner changes can indicate the patient leads a chaotic lifestyle, which can often be a sign that there is risk to their wellbeing. If dental professionals notice patterns such as multiple partner changes in their social history-taking and are concerned, a referral to the appropriate authority (ie social care services) can be beneficial to developing a wider perspective. Carol suggests confidential information such as 'Household Members' can be listed under the patient's details if no other note-taking system is available to dental teams.

There are many ways in which we can improve our daily practice to ensure our patients are safeguarded. Many thanks once again to SJF Wright for highlighting this example for the benefit of other dental teams.

For more information about our British Dental Association-recommended safeguarding training, please visit the Child Protection Company website at, or call us on 01327 552030 to speak to a member of our friendly customer support team.

The Child Protection Company

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