Dento-legal Medicine

  • Paul V. Nichols
Reference work entry


Dento-legal medicine concerns both medical and dental practitioners in that they both have a duty of care to a patient to provide appropriate examination, investigation, diagnosis and treatment, or referral to a specialist, of oral conditions. All health-care professionals must take a comprehensive medical/dental history and keep complete and accurate records. They must provide this service at a minimum standard as would be expected by the average well-trained practitioner and as decided by the relevant medical or dental board. In the case of a medical practitioner, he/she would be expected to know the basic structures of the oral cavity, how normal (healthy) structures should appear, and to recognize abnormality. If the abnormality is of the dentition (teeth) or periodontium (gums), then immediate referral to a GP dentist is appropriate. If the abnormality is with the soft tissues (including tongue and cheeks), then a specialist oral surgeon or oral pathologist should be consulted. A doctor must be aware of and warn the patient of any oral side effects of a diagnosed systemic condition (e.g., diabetes) or medications prescribed (e.g., antidepressants). A dentist must take a thorough medical history (including all medications) and refer to or consult with an appropriate medical practitioner, particularly where he/she suspects oral side effects of medical treatments or medications. A dentist must be aware of the oral signs of common systemic medical conditions and refer to the patient’s managing GP with an appropriate covering letter of referral. The dentist has a duty of care to follow up the patient’s medical management after referral. The dentist has a duty of care to refer all oral pathology where diagnosis or treatment is not within his/her capability/training, to the appropriate dental specialist. A dentist must keep sufficient records (including OPG X-ray) to enable forensic or criminal identification. All health-care professionals may be called upon to provide a medicolegal report and need to be familiar with the process.


Dental Practitioner Bite Mark General Dentist Oral Manifestation Preventive Dental Care 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rogers v Whitaker (1992) 175 CLR 479.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Sykes D. Medico-legal aspect of dental implants. RACDS Ann. 2000;15:309–14.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Robinson G. Reality of consent. Ann Thorac Surg. 1976;22(3):9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Beran RG. The role of the expert witness in the adversarial legal system. J Law Med. 2009;17:133–7.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
  7. 7.
    National Osteoporosis Foundation:
  8. 8.
    Al-Talabani N, Al-Moussawy ND, Baker FA, Mohammed HA. Digital analysis of experimental human bite marks: application of two new methods. J Forensic Sci. 2006;51(6):1372–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Martin-de las Heras S, Valenzuela A, Valverde AJ, Torres JC, Luna-del-Castillo JD. Effectiveness of comparison overlays generated with DentalPrint software in bite mark analysis. J Forensic Sci. 2007;52(1):151–156.11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kouble RF, Craig GT. A comparison between direct and indirect methods available for human bite mark analysis. J Forensic Sci. 2004;49(1):111–8.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Renz H. Incremental lines in root cementum of human teeth – a reliable age marker? J Comp Hum Biol. 2006;57(1):29–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Sweet D, DiZinno JA. Personal identification through dental evidence-tooth fragments to DNA. J Calif Dent Assoc. 1996;24:35–42.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Curley AW. Dental implant jurisprudence: avoiding the legal failures. JCDA. 2001.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Curley AW. Dental implant jurisprudence: avoiding the legal failures. JIDA. 2002.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Guidelines on standards for treatment using endosseous dental implants BDJ Supplement, Mar 1995.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Sterling VJ. Informed consent through the consent consultation. Oral Max Surg Clin N Am. 1995;7(4):665–70.Google Scholar

Further Reading

  1. American Board of Forensic Odontology. [2]. 21 Jan 2008.Google Scholar
  2. Babbush CA. Dental implants: principles and practice. Philadelphia: WB Saunders; 1991.Google Scholar
  3. Barbenel JC, Evans JH. Bite marks in skin – mechanical factors. J Forensic Sci Soc. 1974;14(3):235–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bite-mark verdict faces new scrutiny. Chicago Tribune; 29 Nov 2004.Google Scholar
  5. Bowers CM. Problem-based analysis of bite mark misidentifications: the role of DNA. Forensic Sci Int. 2006;159S:S104–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bureau of Legal Odontology. [1]. 25 Jan 2008.Google Scholar
  7. DeVore DT. Bite marks for identification? A preliminary report. Med, Sci Law. 1971;11(3):144–5.Google Scholar
  8. Dorion Robert BJ. Bite mark evidence [electronic resource]. NY: Marcel Dekker; 2005.Google Scholar
  9. Douglas John. Mindhunter, NY: Scribner; 1995.Google Scholar
  10. DPL|Risk Management|Dental Advice Booklets – Dental Protection.
  11. Evidence from bite marks, it turns out, is not so elementary. New York Times; 28 Jan 2007.Google Scholar
  12. International Organization of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology Regulations. 12 Aug 2007. [3]. 25 Jan 2007.Google Scholar
  13. Jones DG. Odontology often is final piece to grim puzzle. J Calif Dent Assoc. 1998;26:650–1.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. McRoberts, Flynn (2004-10-19). “From the start, a faulty science”. Chicago Tribune.,0,4915311.story?page¼6. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  15. Vermylen Y. Guidelines in Forensic Odontology: legal aspects. Forensic Sci Int. 2006;159(S):S6–8.Google Scholar
  16. Weedn VW. Postmortem identifications of remains. Clin Lab Med. 1998;18:115–37.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Surgeon Commander (D) RANRMAA NSW Assessor, WorkCover trained in the assessment of WPI AssessorSydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations