Paul Revere Was a Dentist!

Do you watch CSI, or Bones? They often rely on forensics to identify remains. Dr. Still is not a forensic dentist, but we thought this topic was very interesting! Throughout history, dental forensics has played an important role. As dental professionals, we continue to play a key role by keeping quality records on each patient. This is done by keeping records legible, accurate, and current, which of course, Smile Sarasota does. The role of forensic dentistry plays a major role in the identification of those individuals who cannot be identified visually or other means. The unique nature of our dental anatomy and the placement of custom restorations ensure accuracy when the techniques are correctly employed.

In addition, when  Dr. Still performs an comprehensive examination, he documents abnormalities even bruising or bite marks. This information will be significant to an investigation of crime or abuse. Those dental professionals interested in assisting with identification of human remains when a mass disaster occurs can do so either at the local, state or federal level. Therefore, all dental professionals do take part in one way or another in forensic dentistry.

Bundy was recaptured in February 1978 and eventually went on trial for the murders he committed in the Chi Omega house. The bite mark was the only piece of physical evidence that he left at the scene. Investigators took plaster casts of Bundy’s teeth, which showed that his teeth were unevenly aligned and that several of them were chipped. A forensic dentist was able to show that these casts matched with photographs of the bite mark from the body of Lisa Levy. This evidence was instrumental in his conviction; if Bundy hadn’t bitten Lisa Levy while assaulting her, he may not have been found guilty. The Bundy case is just one example of how our teeth can uniquely identify us.

Another famous foray into forensic dentistry was that of Paul Revere, who in addition to being a blacksmith was also a dentist. He helped identify Revolutionary War dead who had been buried on the battlefield by their teeth and dental work. Revere was able to identify Dr. Joseph Warren, the man who sent him on his famous ride, because he had made him a partial out of silver wire and pieces of hippo tusk.

Dentistry has much to offer law enforcement in the detection and solution of crime or in civil proceedings. Dental professionals have a major role to play in keeping accurate dental records and providing all necessary information so that legal authorities may recognize malpractice, negligence, fraud or abuse, and identify unknown humans.



Credits: How Stuff Works, U.S. National Library of Medicine,