Forensic Odontologist - Job Description, Duties, Education, Skills, Salary, & Growth

Forensic Odontologist

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Job Description


Forensic odontologists, who are also called forensic dentists, use their highly specialized training for many kinds of crime-related analysis.

This includes identifying remains based on their dental work, matching bite marks to a specific individual or suspect, and providing expert testimony when dental malpractice is alleged.

Often they find themselves working alongside coroners, medical examiners, and police, using their skills to complete a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Determining the age of a skeleton

  • Identifying remains lacking fingerprints or facial recognition

  • Determining the identity of people killed in airplane crashes or other disasters

  • Sourcing a victim's bite mark injuries

These forensic professionals are likely to be called to testify on behalf of the state during criminal proceedings to explain their findings and defend their conclusions.

As a result, they must be highly organized and accurate in the documentation of their findings.

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Responsibilities

 

A forensic odontologist's work involves careful application of scientific and medical techniques, patiently and thoroughly, to finding all pertinent evidence without bias.

Fine motor skills, extreme attention to detail, long and painstaking work, and extreme accuracy are all indispensable.

Microscopes, computers, and other complex technology play a major role in the modern forensic odontologist's efforts. All records must be accurate and complete.

They attend autopsies to take dental impressions, x-rays, and other measurements to match a body to missing persons.

Bite marks on a victim or suspect, chewing gum, food, or other items are analyzed by these experts to identify or exclude a person as the source of the bite.

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Skills

 

Communication

Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.

Trustworthiness

Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 

Perceptiveness

Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.

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Working Conditions

 

Forensic odontologists typically work as career dentists also, providing their forensic services only when required by the coroner or local law enforcement.

Sometimes, they must work at a crime scene or disaster scene, but most forensic dentistry is carried out during an autopsy.

A forensic odontologist must be on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, ready to offer their professional assistance whenever a crime or disaster occurs.

This includes readiness to work on holidays, weekends, and at night. Working with crime or disaster victims can be emotionally stressful.

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Salary Outlook

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