Dentists examining patients are in a key position to detect injuries of the head, neck or face that often indicate child abuse or domestic violence, a new survey shows.

The 1994 ADA-Colgate Oral Health Survey, sponsored by Col-gate Oral Pharmaceuticals, showed that 33 percent of dentists made initial diagnoses of child abuse, compared with 19 percent one year ago.Additionally, 30 percent of dentists reported seeing head and neck injuries suggestive of domestic physical violence among their female patients.

The survey also revealed that in the past year 33 percent more dentists made an initial diagnosis of HIV-AIDS in their patients.