Suggestions for exams or procedures in the mouth

  • Simply asking, "Are you comfortable?" "Is there anything you need?" can be helpful.
  • Be aware of the long-term effects of sexual abuse, including how it can affect dental treatment or oral exams. 38
  • It can be useful to designate a stopping-signal, such as raising a hand/finger if they want the provider to stop. 39
  • Be empathetic and understanding
  • Respond to disclosure
  • You may want to respond with something along the lines of: "I am very
    sorry that happened to you. And I am very glad that you felt able to tell
    me. Is there any way I can help now?"

oral exam

Things to watch for that might indicate the patient is being triggered

  • The patient's breathing: quick shallow breaths, irregular breathing, stop/start
    breathing are all signs that they might need you to stop and take a break, even if they have not raised their hand/finger. 39
  • They may make a small movement or a small sound, but when you ask them if they are alright, they do not respond. 39
  • Spontaneous tears (no accompanying sobs or sounds, just tears leaking from your patient's eyes).
  • Observe if your patient keeps eye contact. For some patients this is very important. 39
  • Extreme startle response