Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Dental Hygiene








Dental hygienists can fill critical roles during mass fatality incidents in the area of disaster victim identification, providing much needed support to forensic odontologists. The purpose of this paper is to bring awareness that research is needed to assess current dental hygiene programs, continuing education opportunities and the type of approach being used to develop and implement pedagogy in the forensic specialty area, specifically mass fatality preparedness and response for the dental hygienist. Because of the threat of terrorism in the U.S. and natural disasters like hurricanes, the need to prepare dental professionals in disaster response and fatality management is real. The authors' recommendations are to incorporate training in the areas of risk management and infection control in the mortuary setting, antemortem and postmortem records comparison, safe usage of portable radiographic equipment, and proper radiographic technique for the deceased victim. Disaster victim identification training in these areas is necessary for the accurate, efficient and dignified identification of disaster victims while minimizing errors and increasing responder safety. The dental hygiene professional can assist disaster mortuary response efforts in a way that leverages multidisciplinary teams, if effective training programs are implemented.

Original Publication Citation

Newcomb, T. L., Bruhn, A. M., & Giles, B. (2015). Mass fatality incidents and the role of the dental hygienist: Are we prepared? Journal of Dental Hygiene, 89(3), 143-151.