Many times, in the course of a criminal investigation, investigators discover potential evidence that may require third-party expert analysis in order to determine the evidentiary value and validity of the evidence procured. The individuals that investigators call on to accomplish this task are referred to as forensic experts or forensic scientists. They are generally not investigators themselves and provide their services on an as-needed basis.
The term ‘forensics’ refers to the utilization of sciences and technologies in a criminal investigative application. Forensic scientists or experts apply the education and knowledge that they have gained through industry experience and use that expertise to evaluate after the fact evidence, or evidence discovered after a crime has been committed.
One field that has been popularized in pop culture and the media is forensic odontology, or forensic dentistry. Forensic dentistry is the application of dental expertise in a criminal investigation. Many times, forensic odontologists apply their dental training and expertise to evaluate the remains of humans. Their experience allows them to articulate the physical characteristics of dental remains as well as evaluate and identify the identity of the individual to whom the remains belong. Their services are also utilized to evaluate bite marks on objects, clothing, or human flesh or assess the nature of injuries sustained to the mouth.
Forensic odontologists are generally practicing dentists that contract their services to investigative entities.
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