Main Article Content
Background: Forensic odontology has over the last few years revolutionized the science of identification of living and deceased persons through the analysis of dental records. However it is taught that this field is underutilized in developing countries. This study aims to assess the knowledge, attitude and practice of forensic odontology among a cross section of Nigerian dental surgeons and their perceived role in furthering the discipline in Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: A pre-validated self-administered questionnaire was distributed to eighty one Dental Surgeons attending the 2013 Annual Scientific Conference of the School of Dentistry, held in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. Results: There were 58 (71.6%) males and 23 (28.4%) female respondents. Seventy seven (95.1%) claimed to keep adequate records. Only 38 (46.9%) dentists kept clinical photographs, 54 (66.7%) of them kept radiographic records, while 63 (77.8%) dentists discarded study cast of the patients. Twenty six (32.1%) dentists kept dental records for a minimum of five years. Thirty three (40.7%) dentists could not estimate dental age. Histological (63.0%) and biochemical (43.2%) methods were the least known methods of estimating age dependent changes in teeth. Sixty one (75.3%) dentist could recognize physical and behavioral signs of abuse. Twenty six (32.1%) dentists were unwilling to testify as expert witness in the court of law. Majority of the dentists 65 (80.3%) acquired their knowledge of forensic odontology from update courses while 22 (27.2%) were taught in their undergraduate years.
Conclusion: There is greater need for dental practitioners in Nigeria to appreciate the field of forensic odontology. This will help sustain the ethics of their clinical practice, by way of proper record keeping, that are legally admissible and assist in resolution of cases.