Forensic dental training in the dental school curriculum

J Forensic Sci. 2007 May;52(3):684-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2007.00409.x.


This article reviews the literature regarding forensic education in the dental school curriculum and describes an exercise in forensic identification of victims of a mass casualty. Radiographs were made of dentate human cadavers in the gross anatomy laboratory at the Southern Illinois School of Dental Medicine. The jaws were then removed to provide "wet specimens" for the exercise. Several restorations were performed on the cadaver teeth, after which radiographs of the dissected jaws were made. One author wrote up mock dental records for each of the victims. These records included the first set or "premortem" radiographs. Students participating in the exercise were provided with a plane crash scenario, the dental records of the passengers on the manifest, the dissected jaws, and the second set or "postmortem" radiographs. Students were expected to form three teams. The first two teams evaluated the ante-mortem and postmortem dental records. The third team compared the ante-mortem and postmortem records to arrive at identification. The purpose of the exercise was twofold. It introduced dental students to forensic dentistry and emphasized the need for complete and accurate record keeping in the dental office. Several factors lessened the realism of the exercise and made it difficult to reproduce in the future. These included the uniformity of the dental records and the destruction of cadaver material following the exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Aviation
  • Cadaver
  • Curriculum*
  • Dental Records
  • Forensic Dentistry / education*
  • Humans
  • Illinois
  • Radiography, Dental
  • Schools, Dental*