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Journal of Dental Hygiene








Purpose: Dental hygienists have the potential for filling critical roles in multidisciplinary victim identification teams. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the accuracy of dental hygiene students utilizing dental charting, bitewings, and skull dentitions for the purpose of making identification matches.

Methods: Thirty senior dental hygiene students (n=30) independently viewed an asynchronous online multimedia-based presentation on the procedures used for collecting and recording forensic dental evidence. Following the presentation participants attempted to chart and match three bitewing radiograph sets to three human skull dentitions by correlating matches/exclusions. Immediately following the activity, each student completed a questionnaire rating the difficulty of the exercise, as well as their confidence, and willingness to volunteer as a forensics team member. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data.

Results: Of the total sample 36.7% (n=11) reported having prior experiences with dental radiography; while the majority (63.33%, n=19) reported no prior experience. Participants' accuracy scores for dental charting ranged from 91.23% (SD=9.42) to 99.06% (SD=3.60), with no statistically significant difference based on prior experience (p>0.05). The average interrater reliability was 86% (p<0.0001), indicating a high level of agreement with charting skulls and radiographs. No statistically significant differences were found for charting time, perceived difficulty, or level of confidence when comparing experience among the participants (p>0.05).

Conclusions: Regardless of previous experience, dental hygiene students were able to match postmortem dentitions and radiographs with good interrater reliability and did not differ statistically for charting time, perceived difficulty, or confidence. Results suggest dental hygienists can work as effective victim identification team members when educational programs are implemented.


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Original Publication Citation

Bradshaw, B. T., Bruhn, A. M., Newcomb, T. L., & Galadima, H. (2020). Postmortem dental records identification by dental hygiene students: A pilot study. Journal of Dental Hygiene, 94(4), 39-46.