Journal of Dental Research and Review

: 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 95--96

Hurdles and the future of forensic odontology in India

Rohan Ashok Gawali 
 Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Dental College and Hospital, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Rohan Ashok Gawali
Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Dental College and Hospital, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Gawali RA. Hurdles and the future of forensic odontology in India.J Dent Res Rev 2020;7:95-96

How to cite this URL:
Gawali RA. Hurdles and the future of forensic odontology in India. J Dent Res Rev [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Aug 10 ];7:95-96
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The first article in this series on forensic odontology (FO) highlighted the scope of it.[1] In the next article, we looked at the education and training in the field of FO.[2] We also understood how the services of a forensic odontologist are engaged. While there are many technical difficulties in the field of FO, this final article of the series will discuss the hurdles in the practice of FO with some suggestions for better utilization and bright future of this promising specialization in India.

Although India faces a high crime rate (specifically offenses against women and children), ironically forensic science is still not given the place it deserves in the overall criminal justice system. FO is not an exception to this. There is a great disparity between the overall bulk of research and its actual translation into solving cases for the betterment of society. In spite of proving its mettle in some of the highly publicized cases of the country, FO faces a lot of problems at various stages, mainly because this potent discipline of forensic science is unorganized and no clear guidelines exist.

I have summarized the hurdles in the following groups:

 At Grass Roots Level

The biggest challenge here is the lack of awareness of this specialty among various stake holders, including police, forensic medicine experts, advocates, and judges. The law enforcement personnel are simply unaware of the possibilities of dental evidence in a case. Consequently, dental evidence goes unchecked in many cases.

 At Higher (Center/state) Level

There are no formal positions for forensic odontologists in Government civil hospitals or forensic laboratories, so dentists having interest in this subject are inadvertently dissuaded from taking up this specialty, as they do not see any future.

 At Administrative Level

In India, we do not have any credentialing or accreditation body that recognizes and maintains a list of professionals competent to practice FO. This is one of the major reasons FO is unorganized in India. There is no special act to govern the specialty of FO and harness its true power.

 At Academic Level

On top of all these, the major hurdles are at academic level. The Dental Council of India (DCI) is yet to take a clear stand on the subject of FO. The council refuses to recognize the master's degree offered by other colleges and universities (not dental colleges) nor it is introducing the subject at a PG level in dental colleges. All these question the overall existence of this specialty at the academic level. This is a major issue and it makes subject experts, although quite few in number, feel orphaned, and disowned by their own parent governing authority.

Currently, the field of FO is at a very crucial stage in India. The number of experts in this promising new discipline of forensic science/dentistry is on the rise. However, the initiative to overcome these hurdles is lacking from the peers of the community. It is high time to find the solutions to these hurdles and clear the path of FO as a mainstream investigative science.

Let us now analyze some of the possibilities which can help overcome these hurdles;

 At Grass Roots Level

Awareness creation sessions/workshops should be organized to sensitize the involved personnel to initiate and increase the acceptance of FO services. The onus of this is on individual forensic odontologists.

 At Higher (Center/state) Level

Positions should be created at ideally all government civil hospitals or at least major civil hospitals with morgue and autopsy facility. Positions can also be created at central and state forensic science laboratories. This will give a major boost to the specialty.

 At Administrative Level

Constitution of a credentialing body and a special act to govern the specialty is essential. Their job will be to lay down quality assurance and quality control protocols for the forensic report generated by odontologists. This will officially introduce and streamline the practice of FO services.

 At Institution Level

The DCI should recognize master's degree in FO acquired in Indian or foreign university (which may not necessarily be DCI accredited). The 30 h of didactic at the undergraduate level is meager. DCI should introduce this specialty at the postgraduate level in the form of MSc/MDS or at least a postgraduate diploma.

Every new specialty has to face a tough struggle for its very existence and carve out its own niche. They say FO is in its infancy, but whether this infant is starved to death or nurtured to grow into a responsible hero is in the hands of fellow forensic odontologists and of course the system. The future of FO in India is nothing but bright. The only question is when this future will become present.


1Gawali RA. A new kid on the block: Forensic odontology. J Dent Res Rev 2019;6:63-4.
2Gawali RA. Education, training, and practice of forensic odontology: An Indian perspective. J Dent Res Rev 2020;7:3-4.