Forensic dentistry, also known as forensic odontology, is the application of dental knowledge to the criminal justice system. It is used to identify unknown victims or perpetrators, and involves the proper handling and examination of dental evidence, which is then presented in court. This subspecialty of dentistry focuses on the identification of deceased persons, usually in single victim cases, but can also be used in mass disasters. The job of a forensic dentist is to use dental information to identify bodies or determine who bit the victim.
This is different from a regular dentist, who focuses on ensuring good dental health and treating cavities and repairing teeth. Both forensic dentists and dentists can measure people's teeth and make molds with their teeth, although forensic dentists use measurements and molds to match people to dental records, while dentists use this type of data for things like dentures. Forensic dentistry is used in both criminal and civil law. Forensic dentists help investigative agencies identify human remains, especially in cases where identifying information is scarce or non-existent.
They may also be asked to help determine the age, race, occupation, previous dental history, and socioeconomic status of unidentified human beings. In 1996, BOLD was created at the University of British Columbia to develop new technologies and techniques in forensic dentistry.Recent advances in the field include the use of computed tomography (CT) images for the identification and examination of pathology, and the superposition of three-dimensional dental surfaces before and after death for identification. Age estimation is an important part of forensic dentistry because human dentition follows a reliable and predictable sequence of development.Keiser-Neilson defined forensic dentistry as “that branch of forensic science that, for the sake of justice, deals with the proper management and examination of dental tests and with the proper evaluation and presentation of dental findings”. Forensic dentistry remains one of the most reliable, cheap and fastest means of corroborating human identity.Forensic dentistry has expanded beyond dental identifications to include the recognition and reporting of child and elder abuse, age assessment, and the analysis of bite marks.
However, there have been several cases in which forensic dentists have made statements, accusations and guarantees backed by the evaluation of bite marks that have been proven to be incorrect in other forensic sciences.Forensic odontology is an essential branch of forensic science that involves the application of dental knowledge for identification purposes. It is a vital tool for criminal justice systems around the world.