Forensic Odontologist

Identify bodies of crime victims based on dental records.
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Quick Stats

Salary Range
~ $161,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Forensic Odontologists do?

Forensic Odontologists, also known as Forensic Dentists, strive to resolve missing person cases and identify the bodies of victims from a crime scene or an accident. The Forensic Odontologist offers comfort to families by identifying the deceased, allowing them to hold a proper burial. Working as a Forensic Odontologist does not put you at the scene of a crime. Instead, you work in a laboratory to identify the body through dental records and DNA.

The daily life of a Forensic Odontologist certainly offers a change of pace from the traditional desk job. Many of your daily tasks occur in the lab, where you perform autopsies alongside a Coroner or Medical Examiner. You take photographs and X-rays of the deceased’s teeth, and collect samples for DNA testing.

To identify the deceased person, you may compare your findings to previous dental records or the records of missing persons. Not everyone is the victim of a crime. Some are victims of an accident or a natural disaster, and their families naturally want to know what happened to them. Other times, you identify bite marks on a living victim to help catch an attacker or identify cases of child abuse.

After you’ve determined the person’s identity, you record any evidence of a crime and write up your report. You may need to testify in court on your findings. Families can finally have closure and seek justice against the criminal who took away their loved one.

Should I be a Forensic Odontologist?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Forensic Dentist

    How to become a Forensic Odontologist

    We recommend at least a Doctorate degree. Check out these schools offering Forensic Odontologist-related education!
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