Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Dental Hygiene








Purpose Allied dental health care professionals have served on disaster victim identification (DVI) teams; however, the literature is void of statistical measures regarding transferable skills and disaster preparedness. The purpose of this study was to assess second year dental hygiene and dental assistant students’ match accuracy for simulated DVI radiographs and compare the match accuracy between the student groups.

Methods Five patient cases were chosen at random to retrospectively collect sets of digital bitewing radiographs from two time periods. The five retrospectively selected sets of images served as simulated antemortem (AM) and postmortem (PM) radiographs. A convenience sample of second year dental hygiene and dental assistant students from two institutions (n=48) were invited to participate in this IRB-exempt descriptive observational study. The previously selected AM and PM images were randomly mismatched, and participants were asked to visually compare the image sets and indicate the matches using a drag and drop feature in an electronic survey instrument. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data; the significance level was set at α=0.05.

Results A total of 41 dental hygiene and dental assistant students agreed to participate for a response rate of 85.4%. Eighty-five percent of the participants accurately matched five out of five sets while the remaining 15% accurately matched three out of five sets. A one-sample binomial proportion test revealed that 80% of the participants were able to match at least four out of five sets (p<0.001). Dental hygiene students demonstrated increased matching performance as compared to dental assisting students (p=0.013).

Conclusion Both dental hygiene and dental assistant students demonstrated transferable DVI skills to accurately match simulated AM and PM radiographs. Future research is needed in a larger sample to develop and assess best practices of DVI training to build on existing skills for allied dental health care professionals.


© American Dental Hygienists' Association Apr 2023.

Included with the kind written permission of the copyright holders. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Original Publication Citation

Vest, S. C., Bradshaw, B. T., Voelker, M. A., Bruhn, A. M., Newcomb, T. L., & Sikdar, S. (2023). Dental hygiene and dental assistant students' simulated DVI radiographic match accuracy: A pilot study. Journal of Dental Hygiene, 97(2), 31-38.


0000-0003-1230-5162 (Sikdar)