Forensic sciences and forensic odontology: issues for dental hygienists and therapists

Int Dent J. 2008 Dec;58(6):342-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1875-595x.2008.tb00355.x.


The scientific literature contains very little about the role of the dental hygienist/therapist in the specific areas of forensic investigations and collection of evidence. The authors examine how the contribution of a highly qualified dental hygienist can be particularly helpful during human forensic identification operations and non-accidental traumas like domestic violence, child abuse, neglect and bitemarks. Forensic dental identification of human remains is a highly complex multidisciplinary challenge. It requires the involvement of several professionals who are expert in forensic science. Among these, one or more adequately trained dental hygienists could be involved. Dental hygienists/therapists may also be asked to record cutaneous lesions in two different situations. The first may be the dental office where she/he may detect oval, elliptic, or semicircular lesions on the skin of the uncovered neck, shoulder and arms of a patient. The second is the crime scene or the morgue (if one is involved), which may require a visit by the forensic odontologist called by the medical examiner or the coroner to perform an odontological autopsy. The purpose of our study is to highlight procedures that should be followed by the dental hygienist/therapist in collecting forensic information in the above-mentioned scenarios. As a valuable resource, the authors recommend training of dental hygienists in the area of forensic sciences, with particular attention to information technology and photography.

MeSH terms

  • Bites, Human / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis
  • Coroners and Medical Examiners
  • Crime
  • Dental Auxiliaries* / education
  • Dental Care
  • Dental Hygienists* / education
  • Dental Impression Technique
  • Disasters
  • Domestic Violence / classification
  • Forensic Dentistry* / education
  • Forensic Sciences* / education
  • Humans
  • Photography
  • Specimen Handling