Keep track of recognizable features

Cathy Alty`s article on "Sorting through a disaster" (March 1998) is well written and shows some ways an RDH (and dental assistants) can help in mass-disaster identification. Though these disasters happen rarely, hygienists can be involved daily with forensic odontology in documenting signs of possible child/elder/spouse abuse when treating patients in the office. It is of critical importance for the hygienist to document identifiable aspects of a patient`s face and mouth besides pocket depth an

Dear RDH:

Cathy Alty`s article on "Sorting through a disaster" (March 1998) is well written and shows some ways an RDH (and dental assistants) can help in mass-disaster identification. Though these disasters happen rarely, hygienists can be involved daily with forensic odontology in documenting signs of possible child/elder/spouse abuse when treating patients in the office. It is of critical importance for the hygienist to document identifiable aspects of a patient`s face and mouth besides pocket depth and restorations (examples: tori, restorations, attrition, tooth anomalies, surgical repairs, bruises, and other injuries). This data may be needed in court actions (abuse, assault, damage determination, divorce) as well as for future mass-disaster identifications.

There are several dental forensic organizations besides the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. RDHs and dental assistants are welcomed as full members in the American Association of Forensic Dentists. Membership is free. For more information and the free quarterly journal, send a large, self-addressed stamped envelope to: AAFD, 1000 North Ave., #334, Waukegan, IL 60085.

E.J. Neiburger, DDS

Editor and vice president

American Association of Forensic Dentists

Waukegan, Illinois

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