Forensic Odontology – the Roles and Responsibility of a Dental Professional
The dental profession has a lot to offer to the field of law enforcement for the purpose of detection and solving of crimes and also for civil and legal proceedings. Forensic odontology has a science demands tremendous knowledge in dentistry and is typically involved in the case for the purpose of establishing the identity of an individual.
How Does Forensic Odontology Work?
The thing unique about teeth is that, after their physiological variations, effects of therapy and pathos, tend to retain information that remains intact all through the life of a person. In fact, these features are believed to remain intact for generations after the demise of a person.
Applications of Odontology in Forensic Medicine-
Dental and forensic experts make use of this information for identification of an individual and also to trace back the possibilities of the event in situations where the teeth are believed to be used as a weapon or for defense.
Under certain situations, one can refer back to a person’s dental records to infer more information about the probably identity of the biter. It is also effective in recognizing the possibility of physical abuse among people belonging to all age groups.
Dental records also help medical experts and legal authorities by providing them relevant information on possibilities of malpractice, fraud, negligence and abuse.
Moving beyond Criminal Investigation
In addition to forensics in crime scene investigations, dental experts are also expected to extend their expertise in cases of mass fatality incidences. With increased global populations, expansion of urban areas, and the increased number of natural disasters and terrorist attacks in all parts of the world; there has been a tremendous rise in the number of lives that are lost each year.
In such situations, it is a cumbersome and challenging task for officials to identify the deceased and maintain track of the human lives that are lost and injured through these unfortunate events. It is in these situations where dental experts come in to employ their knowledge for routine identification tasks using simple one-to-one matching processes.
It is typical for all kinds of infrastructure such as hospitals, communication systems and transportation to be handicapped at such times. It makes it all the more important for experts to identify the deceased victims in such circumstances for the purpose of replacing a hierarchy system for ante-mortem, post-mortem and reconciliation departments.
The 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the 2011 Tsunami in Japan and the 9/11 Attacks in the United States of America are eminent examples of post-disaster management initiatives that facilitated the identification of thousands of victims in a very short frame of time.
Almost 50% of the victims in Thailand were believed to have been identified on the basis of dental records. In addition to Forensic Odontology, fingerprinting technology, DNA and other physical characteristics also aid in identification of the deceased.
Forensic Odontology as a field has been involved in the solving of some of the most ground breaking cases the world has seen. And it’s fast evolving technologies ensures that it will continue to remain an integral part of forensic science for years to come.
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