Who says a dentist’s work is all drilling and filling? Forensic dentists (also known as forensic odontologists) play an important role in crime scene investigation. Bones are the sturdiest parts of the human body, making teeth one of the most reliable points of identification on otherwise unrecognizable remains. In fact, victims whose bodies have been disfigured beyond recognition are often identified by their dental records.
The forensic dentist’s role isn’t isolated to post-mortem work alone. He can also be tapped to identify bite marks on food and other items, including the victims themselves, and match those marks with a suspect’s teeth and/or bite Dental evidence is used in many court proceedings, so a forensic dentist is a great asset to investigations.
To become a forensic dentist, one must first become a licensed dentist, and therefore undergo the necessary education. After earning a Doctor of Dental Science (DDS) degree, one must then undergo specialized training for forensic dentistry.
In addition to education, forensic dentists need to be certified by the American Association of Forensic Science. Certification can be earned by working on at least 25 cases, and by accumulating at least 350 qualification points, which can be earned in ways determined by the association itself. Some examples of point-earning activities include regular attendance of association meetings and passing a qualifying exam.
The job of a forensic dentist is a meticulous one. Their hard work is rewarded with a salary that ranges from $150,000 to $185,000.
Dental evidence can be among the most reliable sources of information in many cases, so the demand for forensic dentists will always be steady. Forensic dentists will enjoy a relatively stable career.