Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Scurvy presenting primarily as gingival manifestation in a young child: a diagnostic dilemma
  1. Rashmi Chaluvaraj1,
  2. Paul F Ashley2 and
  3. Susan Parekh2
  1. 1Buckinghamshire Priority Dental Service, CNWL, Milton Keynes, UK
  2. 2Paediatric Dentistry, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rashmi Chaluvaraj; rashmi.chaluvaraj{at}


Vitamin C deficiency, historically known as scurvy, was associated with sailors in the Victorian times, however, a global review in 2020 suggests it still exists in certain at-risk groups.

A case is presented of a young non-verbal child with learning difficulties and on a restricted diet, in which the primary symptom was gingival inflammation. It posed a diagnostic dilemma due to the non-specific symptoms, and a delay in the diagnosis, until vitamin C deficiency was confirmed.

Gingival inflammation is one of the common findings in vitamin C deficiency and dental professionals may be the first point of contact. The importance of dietary evaluation, identifying and looking for other signs and liaising with the medical colleagues are discussed.

This case highlights the role of the dentist in identifying latent cases of vitamin C deficiency and to consider this as a differential diagnosis especially in certain at-risk groups.

  • Mouth
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Dentistry and oral medicine
  • Diet

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors RC treated the patient and wrote the manuscript, PFA and SP edited the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.