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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 45
Education in forensic dentistry in India

Department of Forensic Odontology, S.D.M. College of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Sattur, Dharwad, Karnataka, India

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Date of Web Publication22-Nov-2012

How to cite this article:
Acharya AB. Education in forensic dentistry in India. J Educ Ethics Dent 2011;1:45

How to cite this URL:
Acharya AB. Education in forensic dentistry in India. J Educ Ethics Dent [serial online] 2011 [cited 2021 Apr 19];1:45. Available from: https://www.jeed.in/text.asp?2011/1/2/45/103672

Forensic odontology is the branch of dentistry which deals with the law. It has been defined by the Fédération Dentaire Internationale (FDI) as "that branch of dentistry which, in the interest of justice, deals with the proper handling and examination of dental evidence, and with the proper evaluation and presentation of dental findings." The education of dentists in forensic odontology received a major thrust with the subject's inclusion in the Dental Council of India's (DCI) revised Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) curriculum of 2007. Recognizing the nascency of this specialty in India, a fairly unique approach to its teaching was proposed by this author and subsequently embraced by the DCI: (1) Non-specialists were permitted to undertake teaching of the subject. This was done taking cognizance of the problem of lack of qualified forensic odontologists across the country; hence, dental subjects which were deemed as being closest to forensic odontology in terms of relevance of the topics covered at the undergraduate level - namely oral pathology/oral biology, and oral medicine/radiology - were chosen; (2) forensic odontology was not arbitrarily categorised in to one dental specialty, rather, the subject was split in two - a preclinical stream under oral pathology/oral biology, and a paraclinical stream under oral medicine/radiology. The latter approach aimed at easy comprehension of the subject by undergraduates. For example, histological/morphological methods related to age estimation is expected to be handled under oral pathology in III BDS (when students have already completed their training in oral anatomy/histology), whereas radiographic age estimation is envisaged to be covered under oral medicine/radiology in IV BDS (when students would already have finished one cycle of clinical posting and are relatively familiar with radiographic analysis and interpretation). The same approach also ensures that related specialists cover forensic odontology (e.g., oral physicians cover dental examination- and radiological-related topics, whereas oral pathologists cover histological/morphological aspects).

Recognizing the relevance of this approach, recent proposals to modify and upgrade forensic odontology teaching at the BDS level has continued with this approach. However, the upgrade aims to make forensic odontology teaching much more comprehensive in nature, with approximately 40 h of theory and about 70 h of hands-on practical training. The objectives of this are 2-fold: (1) clearing the path to make forensic odontology a mandatory year-end examination subject (as a part of oral pathology and oral medicine/radiology) and possibly an independent undergraduate subject in the future; (2) ensuring undergraduates are given sufficient exposure so that the awareness enables them to make an informed decision about pursuing a career in it. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the subject is to be initiated as a separate MDS specialty with the DCI approving the proposal in May 2012. It must be noted that Prof. Ajit Dinkar of Goa Dental College - who has pursued the issue of comprehensive teaching in the subject with the DCI since 2009 - has pioneered these upgrades, whereas the Indian Association of Forensic Odontology has provided inputs to the same.

The approved MDS syllabus encompasses the wide range of subjects which forensic odontology has evolved to include, and its structure is similar to other MDS specialties. What is different, however, is the manner in which the training will be undertaken, at least for the first 8-10 years. Since there still are not even a handful of qualified specialist Forensic Odontologists in India, the MDS programme envisages the participation of any MDS faculty from any department, provided they are "active and have practical experience" in forensic dentistry; also, the DCI resolution states that "advanced training and certification in the field is encouraged" for faculty keen to be part of training forensic odontology MDS students. For the commencement of the MDS in forensic odontology, a separate department within a college is preferred, although not mandatory for the first 5 years. What is mandated is that the concerned college establishes a Forensic Odontology Department placing it under the additional charge of the Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology for paraclinical training in forensic dentistry, and under the additional charge of the Department of Oral Pathology for nonclinical forensic odontology training. These, it is hoped, will set in motion an environment that enables awareness-creation of forensic dentistry among dentists, its routine application for the benefit of the legal fraternity and society, and its rightful autonomy in the scheme of dental education in India.

   Authors Top

Ashith B Acharya

Correspondence Address:
Ashith B Acharya
Department of Forensic Odontology, S.D.M. College of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Sattur, Dharwad, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-7761.103672

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