Speakers at the seventh national conference of the Indian Association of Forensic Odontology (IAFO) called for a legislation that would make it mandatory for dental surgeons to preserve records of their patients.

They also underscored the need to attract more medical professionals to explore career options in the area of forensic dentistry.

The two-day conference on forensic odontology was inaugurated here on Saturday by Mayilvahanan Natarajan, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University. Forensic Odontology is a science that deals with the examination, collection and preservation of dental evidence in court.

“Forensic odontology helps in the identification of victims in mass disaster and child sexual abuse, among others, but it hasn't got its due. Awareness in this area of dental science is less in India and neither is there sufficient formal training,” said Dr. Mayilvahanan Natarajan.

He assured that the new curriculum in the university would have greater focus on forensic odontology.

P. Chandra Sekharan, forensic scientist and former Vice-Chancellor of the National Law University, Jodhpur, said in India there was no law which would compel dental surgeons to preserve dental records. He cited example of the tragic Air India flight Kanishka where none of the 300 victims could be identified as there were no dental data.

In many advanced countries a mass disaster team, which includes forensic odontologist, is earmarked in case of an eventuality, he said. “Teeth are the most important bone to detect loss in a mass disaster,” added Dr. Sekharan.

Forensic science must be made interesting as well as compulsory by introducing credits.

The website of the association – www.theiafo.org – was launched. J.G.Kannappan, president, IAFO, S. Balagopal, secretary, IAFO and J.S. Rajkumar, Chairman, Lifeline Hospitals, spoke.

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