In addition to my profession as a dentist and dento-legal consultant, I am trained as and volunteer as a forensic dentist when the need arises. Forensic dentistry involves the handling and examination of dental evidence in the pursuit of justice. It can be identification of human remains, evaluation of bite marks, or other related issues.
William Gladstone, prime minister of England, once wrote, “Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.”
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I received a telephone call asking if I could travel to Western Pennsylvania to aid in the identification of the victims on Flight 93. I spent the next eight days there as part of a federal team assisting in this difficult task. After returning home, I spent my weekends for the next six months in New York helping to identify those killed in the World Trade Center disaster. Later, in 2005, I spent several weeks in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina working with a federal disaster response team DMORT.
Over the years, coroner’s offices and law enforcement have sought my assistance in helping to identify crime victims or human remains that have been recovered and can only be identified via dental or DNA means. Among the forensic dental community, those of us who volunteer our time and energy view it as serving country, community, and the victim’s families, and giving back. It is rewarding to use my skills and training to give back and help others, the lessons of service learned growing up at home and at Roxbury Latin.