We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Forensic Dentistry?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Forensic dentistry, also known as forensic odontology, is a subspecialty within the dental field which focuses on the application of dental knowledge and practice to legal matters. The most famous aspect of forensic dentistry is probably the use of dental records in the identification of human remains, but there are a number of additional applications for this medical and legal specialty. Most forensic dentists are board certified and members of professional organizations, although it is possible to work in the field without special qualifications.

The history of forensic dentistry dates to the late 1800s. Around the middle of the 19th century, several high profile cases, including one in which incriminating bitemarks in a chunk of cheese revealed the perpetrator of a crime, brought the field to the attention of the public and the field of forensic dentistry began to expand radically. Today, forensic dentists work all over the world, everywhere from pathology laboratories to temporary mortuaries set up in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.

Forensics is a field which involves the application of science to legal matters, and the use of experts in various scientific fields to gather, interpret, and testify about evidence. In the case of forensic dentistry, experts can use dental records to identify or confirm the identification of a body, and they can also compare bitemarks to learn more about who committed a crime. Forensic dentists may also be called upon to testify about evidence of trauma to the region of the mouth in abuse cases or lawsuits over accidents, and they can also testify about dental malpractice.

Forensic dentists are usually called in to any case where unidentified human remains are present. Even if the dentist cannot match the available evidence to someone's existing dental records, he or she can provide important clues to identity which may help investigators identify the body. For example, the dentist can make estimates about age, socioeconomic class, and history based on examination of the teeth. By collating this evidence with evidence from other forensic examiners such as forensic anthropologists, investigators can narrow down the identity possibilities.

In addition to working on ongoing investigations and testifying in court, forensic dentists are also part of the response teams which arrive at the scene when mass fatalities have occurred. They work to identify the bodies so that they can be returned to their families, usually working side by side with forensic and mortuary professionals. Forensic dentists can also be involved in the investigation of mass graves, and in research on ancient burial grounds to learn more about previous human societies.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.