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ADA forensic dentistry standard created after 9/11 added to federal registry

November 15, 2019

By Mary Beth Versaci

Two forensic dentistry guidelines developed by the American Dental Association Standards Committee on Dental Informatics have received a stamp of approval from the federal government, including one that was created in response to 9/11.

The Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science Registry, which is currently administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, accepted American National Standards Institute/ADA Standard No. 1058: Forensic Dental Data Set and ADA Technical Report No. 1088: Human Identification by Comparative Dental Analysis earlier this year.

The registry "serves as a trusted repository of high-quality, technically sound standards and guidelines for the practice of forensic science," according to its website.

"To improve consistency within and across forensic science disciplines, ensure confidence in the accuracy, reliability and reproducibility of laboratory results, and positively increase the impact of admissibility and expert testimony in courts of law, OSAC encourages our stakeholders in the forensic science and criminal justice communities to implement the OSAC Registry Approved Standards into their everyday practice," the website states.

ANSI/ADA Standard No. 1058: Forensic Dental Data Set standardizes the terminology all dentists should use when submitting patient data to help in the identification of human remains or a living person with amnesia.

Mr. Aschheim
Dr. Aschheim
"This standard was developed following the World Trade Center attack as a means of standardizing the terminology and the transfer of dental forensic data," said Dr. Kenneth Aschheim, who chairs the SCDI Subcommittee on Forensic Odontology Informatics, as well as the Forensic Odontology Informatics Terminology Working Group that developed the standard.

Dr. Aschheim is the assistant chief forensic odontologist for the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner and one of the dentists who helped identify victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"One of the problems we had was that we were getting information in different formats, which used different terminologies, which sometimes gave us ambiguous meanings," he said. "This is especially true when the information came from different countries. This standard is the first step in creating a protocol for the seamless transfer of this information electronically in a secure manner."

ADA Technical Report No. 1088: Human Identification by Comparative Dental Analysis lays out guidelines for the process of identifying people by comparative dental analysis and educates dental practitioners on what information may be required from them should they need to participate in that process.

Dr. Loomis
Dr. Loomis
"By having this comprehensive document approved in the national registry, forensic odontologists, forensic pathologists, medical examiners and coroners, law enforcement personnel, dental schools, emergency planners and others now have a resource to reference the best practices and guidelines of forensic dental identification," said Dr. Peter W. Loomis, forensic odontologist with the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator and chair of the SCDI Working Group on Human Identification by Comparative Dental Analysis, which wrote the technical report. "From my perspective, having a readily accessible, nationally approved document to help inform and guide stakeholders is the most gratifying aspect of OSAC Registry acceptance."

In order to be added to the registry, both documents were evaluated by OSAC based on technical merit and impact on forensic sciences, as well as adherence to the voluntary consensus process the ADA SCDI follows in development of its standards and technical reports, which includes openness, transparency and a balance of interests.

Both documents are available for free to ADA members through the ADA Catalog at ebusiness.ADA.org/productcatalog.