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Journal of Forensic Sciences








Matching dental antemortem (AM) and postmortem (PM) data for human identification is especially challenging when the workforce is limited. Dental hygienists have served mass fatality incidents (MFIs) due to dental-related expertise. However, forensics within dental hygiene education and research on transferable skills is limited. This qualitative balance design study assessed senior dental hygiene students' match accuracy of simulated cases varying in dental identifiers based on AM full mouth series (FMS) radiographs and oral photographs to PM WinID3® odontograms to demonstrate possible disaster victim identification (DVI) transferable skills gained during formal education. A convenience sample of senior dental hygiene students (n = 31) was presented information on WinID3® interpretation, then presented with 5 mismatched cases and asked to visually interpret each to make 10 total matches; five based on AM FMS with simulated PM WinID3® odontograms and five based on AM photographs with PM WinID3® odontograms. Match accuracy scores ranged from 41.9% to 58.1% for cases with 1–10 identifiers, and 77.4% to 93.5% for cases with 11–40 identifiers. Accuracy when matching AM radiographs to PM odontograms versus AM photographs to PM odontograms was compared and revealed no statistical differences in match accuracy depending on image type (p = 0.388 to 1.000). Results of this pilot study suggests transferable match accuracy skills resulted from the participants' dental hygiene formal education. These baseline skills with additional specialized training support the rationale for dental hygienists serving on DVI teams. More research is needed in education and practice when preparing dental hygienists for forensic-based service.


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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Original Publication Citation

Bradshaw, B. T., Hunt, A. W., Ludwig, E., & Newcomb, T.L. (2023) Dental hygiene students' matching accuracy when comparing antemortem dental radiographs and oral photographs to simulated postmortem WinID3® odontograms. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 68(1), 154-162.