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Article: Volume 48 Number 1 Page 48 - January 2021

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  Dental Update 485: 48-52

Paediatric dentistry:  The impact of meningococcal septicaemia on the developing dentition

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Abstract: Meningococcal septicaemia is an acute bacterial infection with high morbidity and mortality. The infection can cause multiple systemic manifestations including disseminated intravascular coagulation, haemorrhage, infarction and necrosis of internal organs and bone abnormalities. Children with meningococcal septicaemia present most frequently between the ages of 3 months and 5 years; a crucial period for the developing dentition. Disturbances to developing dentition are frequent sequelae of this infection and include hypoplasia and hypo/hypermineralization, failed or delayed eruption, root and crown malformation. This is thought to be related to subclinical premaxillary osteomyelitis secondary to septicaemia. This case series describes three patients with rare but similar patterns of dental development, notably in the anterior maxillary region, following meningococcal septicaemia in early childhood. The patient journey through multidisciplinary assessment and management is explored, from initial diagnosis to definitive oral rehabilitation. This article underscores the importance of effective communication and care pathways between the dental team and wider medical profession.

Clinical relevance: To raise awareness of the impact of early childhood meningococcal septicaemia on the developing dentition and the potential need for referral to secondary dental care.

Author notes: Shaira Kassam, BChD (Merit), MFDS RCSEd, PGCert MedEd, Orthodontic Speciality Registrar, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK. Claire Forbes-Haley, Restorative Consultant. BDS, MJDF, FGDP (UK), RCS (Eng), FDS RCS (Eng) University Hospital Plymouth, UK. email:

Objective: The reader should have further understanding of the impact of childhood illness on the possible effects on the developing dentition.