"A highlight of my forensic career was the opportunity to serve with the Canadian DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) Team in Thailand, helping with the identification of the Tsunami victims. On one trip we drove into the popular resort area of Khau Lac - what had been a resort area." It had been annihilated . . . just flattened and washed away. In the nearby fishing village of Ban Nam Kem I saw a two to three-story tall fishing trawler that had been washed into the middle of a traffic intersection. We didn't find out until after the fact that the driver of our vehicle was from that village and that he had lost many members of his family there."
--Dr. Ron Haines
Dr. Ron Haines is a practicing general and family dentist, who also works as a Forensic Odontologist. "Forensic Odontology is an interesting area of work, but unfortunately there just isn't the work load available for me to do it full-time. There are very few full-time forensic dentists in the world."
When it comes to crime-fighting the most frequent need for forensic odontology is its use in the identification of the victim. This is done by comparing the victim's teeth to ante mortem (before death) dental records. It is also used in bite-mark cases, in which an attempt is made to compare and match tooth marks in a victim's skin to a suspect's teeth. Dr. Haines explains that "what we are looking for are finer individual features in the bite mark that might have been left by the teeth of a suspect, for example, tiny discernable bruises that may be left by measurably spaced bumps found on the suspect's incisor. In a bite mark case either the investigating police agency's DNA experts or I will try to swab saliva from the area of the mark."
"When I am working on a forensic case I am sometimes called in at the time of the autopsy to examine the teeth of a victim. Normally I conduct the examination as I would on a living patient, although there are times when the conditions make it difficult to do so."