Of all the different kinds of forensic careers that you hear mentioned, it is forensic odontology that tends to raise the questioning eyebrow and beg the question…what is forensic odontology?

Simply put, forensic odontology is a fancy word for forensic dentistry.

The forensic odontologist takes their training and knowledge of the teeth and dentistry and uses that within the worlds of criminal justice and the legal system.

What Does A Forensic Odontologist Do?

The key responsibility of anyone working in forensic odontology is to examine any dental evidence in a careful manner to help with the criminal investigation and potentially be used as part of a court case.

The most common goal of these examinations is to identify human remains, but could also include bite mark analysis from bite marks found at crime scenes, an sometimes on children that have been the victims of abuse.

Because of their role within the legal system it’s important for the forensic odontologist to be well versed in the various guidelines and protocols associated with the handling and examination of evidence.

This is to ensure that it can be used as part of a court case if required.

Tied in with this job is the possibility that they may be called on to provide testimony in court about the dental evidence they have examined.

This means they need to be confident in their knowledge of the subject matter and have an ability to explain the technical details in layman’s terms.

Among the busiest times for a forensic odontologist is in the period of time after a natural disaster has occurred where there are a great deal of bodies massed together that need to be identified as quickly as possibly.

How Do You Become A Forensic Odontologist?

Because forensic odontology is a sub-field of dentistry in general, the initial training for a forensic odontologist is much the same as for any other dentist, meaning a great deal of study and practical training.

Once you have completed the necessary training to work in dentistry, you will then need to begin the process of both extra courses in forensic dentistry and on-the-job training working with an experienced forensic odontologist

Forensic Odontology Course

After you have completed your dentistry training, your first step will be to enroll in one of the forensic dentistry courses available so that you can get yourself up to speed with the unique requirements of working as a forensic dentist

These forensic dentistry courses are generally provided by bodies such as the American Academy of Forensic Science or the American Board of Forensic Odontology who offer seminars and lectures in the various techniques, tools and processes used.

Forensic Odontology Education

At the same time as you are completing some courses in forensic odontology, it is also a good idea to expand your forensic odontology education via practical experience.

This will involve working together with an experienced odontologist and assisting them with their examinations so that you can see firsthand the sort of processes they follow and what their responsibilities are with regards to the legal aspects of the job.

Forensic Odontology Salary

Because this is just an extension of a career in dentistry, you can expect to earn well above average money if you choose a career as a forensic odontologist.

The average salary in forensic odontology would be somewhere around the $130,000 – $140,000, although just as with any other job this would depend on other factors such as location, skill and experience.

Forensic Odontology Careers

So if you’re interested in a career in forensic odontology, then you’ll have to put in the hard work and study to get your dentistry education.

Then you’ll need to go on and do some more study if forensic odontology and gain some experience working together with an experienced professional.

But the rewards can be great – the money is god, the work is interesting (although sometimes a little upsetting) and you don’t have to deal with patients that are scared to death of you.


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