Forensic odontology, also known as forensic dentistry, is a field of science that enables dentists to participate in and identify victims, as well as assist with legal and criminal matters. Keiser-Neilson defines forensic odontology as “that branch of forensic dentistry that, for the sake of justice, is concerned with the proper management and examination of dental tests and with the proper evaluation and presentation of dental findings.”This field has been used to great effect in identifying victims of major disasters, such as the tsunami in Southeast Asia in December 2004.
Forensic odontologyplays a central role in providing evidence from the oral and maxillofacial region (including teeth), which can be used in a court of law and accepted by both the legal system and scientific community to accurately distinguish truth from falsehood.When a body is unidentified, forensic pathologists can use information provided by forensic dentists (such as age, race, gender, and type of dental treatment) to narrow down the list of dentists in an area from whom police can request dental records. The process used for making these comparisons and collecting dental evidence has become the standard for forensic odontology. Since then, it has been used to identify victims of plane crashes, fires, and terrorist attacks.Two-dimensional images are more efficient than three-dimensional computed tomography for identifying teeth due to the costs and logistical problems associated with the latter.
In 1984, the American Board of Forensic Dentistry (ABFO) issued guidelines that sought to clarify this confusion by recommending the Universal Numbering System for dental cartography.