Forensic odontology is a dynamic and evolving sub-specialty in the profession of dentistry. It is a common bridge between dentistry and the law. Dental identification and disaster victim identification are the best known and most commonly practiced areas of the discipline. A basic understanding of the methodology utilized in dental identification and disaster victim identification can be a valuable resource for anyone who desires to help with the identification of unknown human remains.
Dental-legal issues are another area where forensic odontology is important. Incidents that involve personal injuries of the oral and peri-oral anatomy often require a forensic dental expert opinion. These opinions can range from confirming the injuries as a result of the incident to detailing the short- and long-term treatment and associated costs.
In addition to personal injuries, issues often arise regarding the application of the dental standard of care in relation to dental treatment provided to patients. As these issues are litigated, a forensic dental expert opinion is often required.
One area these combined sections of forensic dentistry have in common is the reliance on patient dental records. The importance of the dental record, its content, organization, accuracy, legibility and detail are critical to the outcome of an individual injury or malpractice case, victim identification or legal proceeding upon which it will be based.