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Dentists told to step up

marciadottin, [email protected]

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THIS country’s sole forensic expert in bite mark analysis and the identification of charred and disfigured bodies wants to see more dentists move into those areas.
Dr Victor Eastmond, this country’s only forensic odontologist, educated more than three dozen police, customs and Value Added Tax (VAT) department personnel on his speciality on the third day of a prosecutors course at the Frank Walcott Building on Culloden Road.
Stating that for too long dentists had avoided the limelight, he stressed that “dentists have a role to play in forensics”.
Eastmond, 65, who was trained in Sweden, said that forensics in bite mark analysis was being done in the United States and Australia and the time had come to take Barbados to that level.
“One of the things that international forensic dentists look at doing is setting up a protocol where they will give guidelines as to how to manage the collection, recording and then the presentation of evidence in any such cases as bite marks.
“As a past member of the Barbados Defence Force, I also know that we are very interested in making sure that if there is a disaster here such as aircraft, cane fires, tsunami, the forensic odontologist will be able to play a part in identification of any bodies,” he said.
Eastmond, a consultant to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Royal Barbados Police Force, said the world was watching us.
“We are looked upon as a tourist destination and we have to make sure that we have things in place which  will ensure that in the eyes of the international community what we are doing is done under their international standards.”
Dental records
Eastmond said that forensic odontology was helped by dental records.
“For evidence on a dead body, it helps if that person attended the dentist regularly because we need a charting of that person’s teeth while they were alive so that if that person died inadvertently, we would be able to match the ante-mortem records with the post mortem records and makea positive identification.
“Dental records is key but our work is far from useless otherwise, because we can get DNA evidence in most cases from a tooth. DNA evidence can be garnered through a person who is unidentified or hasn’t got dental records.”
Eastmond reminded participants that saliva was a key type of substance from which DNA evidence can be obtained. (MK)