Becoming a Forensic Odontologist: What Qualifications Do You Need?

Becoming a forensic odontologist requires a Doctor of Dental Science (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. This is the first step to becoming a dentist, and it is followed by extensive additional training in the techniques and methods of forensic dentistry. Dentists must be able to identify bite marks, missing persons, human remains, and more. They must also be able to collect evidence from different sources to identify victims.

Dentists do not have fixed working hours due to the nature of their work. They may have to put in additional hours to complete work within the allotted time frames. They may also be required to travel to crime scenes or other locations to collect samples for further analysis. In addition, they can take x-rays and measurements of the dental region in a laboratory.

It is essential for dentists to be precise, efficient, and detail-oriented when working in emotionally challenging environments. To become a forensic odontologist, you must first obtain a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Science (DDS) degree. This program can range from 1 to 4 years for a master's degree or between 3 and 4 years for the doctorate. Before applying for such a degree, you must have completed a bachelor's degree in a relevant area such as biochemistry or neuroscience.

There are also advanced credentials you can obtain from organizations such as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences or the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. A diploma from the American Board of Forensic Dentistry can further help you improve your credentials. In the United States, you must continue to meet the educational requirements to keep your license which ranges from 12 to 30 hours a year depending on the state you are in. The job growth rate for dentists is higher than average with 8.2% growth expected over the next ten years resulting in 8,900 new jobs for a total of 116,800 people employed in this field across the country.

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) provides conferences demonstrations and workshops on forensic dentistry which are valuable educational experiences. Despite controversy over the reliability of bite mark analysis in determining criminal guilt, the American Society of Forensic Dentistry recognizes its importance and dedicates an entire section of its certification test to this subject.