Determining Identity Through Dental Forensics

dna strand graphic

By Gerald L. Vale, DDS, MDS, MPH, JD

How did you get into the field of forensic dentistry?

After having an orthodontic practice for about 18 years, I decided to pursue additional studies and earned degrees in both public health and law. I was interested in forensic dentistry, having heard about dental evidence being used in legal matters. Then, by chance in 1968, I was contacted by the coroner’s office when a helicopter crashed en route from Los Angeles International Airport to Disneyland, killing 21 people. I was asked to assist in the investigation. I did and was able help identify those who died.

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