Dentists in Scotland are to be trained to spot the signs of domestic abuse.
More than 90 practitioners in the NHS Ayrshire and Arran area will learn to recognise teeth, face and head injuries, common among abuse victims.
They will also be asked to encourage victims to seek help.
The charity behind the scheme, Medics Against Violence (MAV), hopes other health boards will take up the training, too.
It said dentists were ideally placed to spot the signs of abuse as they worked in close proximity to their patients.
The organisation’s websites says: ‘Every day, medics see the outcomes of violence on their operating tables, in their surgeries and in their clinics… We think that a lot of violence could easily be prevented, meaning a lot less victims and a lot less suffering. That’s why we set up Medics Against Violence. Our aim is to prevent violence before it happens.’
This latest initiative was launched at the North West Kilmarnock Area Centre by MAV founder Dr Christine Goodall and Scotland’s deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran is the first Scottish health board to take up the training, which comprises a short film and a series of discussions from medics and police.
In a recent survey, 70% of patients who sought help from their dentist wished they had been asked about their injuries.
It’s hope they will then be equipped with the skills and ability to deal with disclosure professionally and confidently.
MAV began with Goodall and fellow surgeons Mark Devlin and David Koppel, both surgeons at Glasgow’s southern general hospital, talking to secondary school pupils about the impact violence has on the lives of the victims, their families and the professionals who work with them.
For more on MAV, visit www.medicsagainstviolence.co.uk.