Updated President’s Message

Check out Adam Freeman President’s message here.

apply for a research grant





A goal of the ABFO Research Committee is to encourage and stimulate investigation and research in forensic odontology and related areas. Funding is available for projects requiring budgets up to $500.


Appropriate topics for investigation could include, but are not limited to:

  • age estimation
  • bitemark investigation
  • business aspects of forensic odontology practice
  • dental identification
  • dental jurisprudence
  • dental malpractice
  • expert witness consultation
  • expert witness testimony
  • facial approximation
  • forensic odontology demographics
  • forensic philosophies
  • mass fatality incident management
  • patterned injury investigation
  • person abuse – oral and dental aspects
  • photographic, radiographic, or other imaging techniques
  • trial aids


The project proposed by the applicant should be well derived, with the likelihood that it could be completed in about one year.


The funds requested in the budget section should total $500 or less, and award checks will be made payable directly to the principal investigator.


A brief written report detailing the progress of the work will be required six months after funding, and again twelve months after funding.


The project may be carried out under the supervision of an ABFO Diplomate if the principal investigator is a dental undergraduate or graduate student, or resident.


It is expected that the research results will be reported at an annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and/or in a publication, such as the Journal of Forensic Sciences.


Resulting publications and presentations should clearly acknowledge the ABFO grant support.


The application should be brief and less than five pages long.


A completed research grant application package consists of submitting the following information:

  1. Cover Page
    1. Title of proposed study
    2. Amount of grant funds requested
    3. Principle author’s name, credentials, institution, mailing address, telephone number, FAX, and email address.
    4. Additional authors’ names, credentials, institutions, mailing addresses, telephone numbers, FAX, and email addresses.
    5. Indicate if the study will involve human subjects, animal subjects, or biohazards.
  • Biographical Summaries of Applicants

Includeone paragraph for each major participant to include education, employment, forensic courses/meetings/seminars attended, forensic experience, and research experience. A curriculum vitae for each applicant may be submitted instead of this paragraph, provided it includes the pertinent items.

  • Aim(Purpose) and Objectives

Provide a specific and accurate synopsis of the overall purpose of the study and explain what the study intends to accomplish.

  • Significance

How will your research refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the area under investigation? Why is the study important? What information will be generated and how will it be used? How will this new information advance the field of forensic odontology?

  • Background Information

This can include a brief review of the literature on the proposed topic to provide the background and context for the research problem. It should establish the need for the research and indicate that the writer is knowledgeable about the area. If you are planning to explore a relatively new area, the literature review should cite similar areas of study or studies that lead up to the current proposed research. This section may also include a review of previous work done by the applicant(s) related to this topic. If applicable, please include copies of previous publications to expedite the review process.

  • Study Design, Materials and Methods

Briefly describe how you will investigate the problem. Indicate materials, methods, experimental design, anticipated results and how they will be analyzed. Give sufficient detail to allow the reviewers to evaluate the likelihood that the project will accomplish its specific aim, purpose, and objectives.

Provide copies ofall survey forms and questionnaires to be used in the study.

  • Timetable

Outline the work plan and expected date of completion. Remember to include in the plan a brief written report detailing the progress of the work six months and twelve months after funding begins.

  • Facilities

Indicate the resources available to conduct the proposed work. Include such information as lab space if needed, the name of the diagnostic laboratories which will perform required tests, etc.

  • Budget

Itemize each research related expense with approximate cost and final total requested ($500 or less). Depending on the type of project, the budget may include such items as equipment, library search and photocopying fees, postage for questionnaires, cost of laboratory tests; lab supplies, etc.


(NOTE: Equipment purchased with ABFO research funds will be considered to be the property of the Board, with the grant recipient serving as custodian. This means that after the grant period, other diplomates wishing to make use of the equipment will have reasonable access by applying through the Research Committee.)


Proposals will be reviewed by the Research Committee as received. If specific questions arise during the review process the Committee will contact the applicant. The proposal will be evaluated by members of the ABFO Research Committee according to the general criteria listed below:

  1. Is the study important to forensic odontology?
  2. Will the research produce new data and concepts or confirm existing hypotheses?
  3. Is the experimental design adequate?
  4. Are the methods for data collection and the procedures feasible?
  5. Are appropriate controls present?
  6. Do the methods answer the question proposed?
  7. Is it likely that the study can be accomplished in the time projected and with the facilities and resources available to the applicant?
  8. Are all items in the budget justified on the basis of the proposed approach, procedures, and analysis of the data?





Dr.Veronique F. Delattre

Chair,ABFO Research Committee

6516 M.D. Anderson Blvd., #493

Houston, Texas 77030 U.S.A.


Ideas for Research Topics

Survey conducted by the 2006-2007 ABFO Research Committee:
Veronique Delattre, DDS, FAGD, DABFO
Richard Weems, DDS, MS, DABFO
Robert Wood, DDS, MS, PhD, DABFO


I. Bitemark Analysis / Patterned Injury Analysis

  1. How about utilizing laser scanners and comparison software used in different industries?
  2. Individuality of dentition as relates to opinion, that is the more unusual the teeth the stronger the link – conversely, distinguishing “good” ortho alignment cases
  3. Despite male and female differences in tissue elasticity, tissue distortion, tissue rebound following physical alterations, including injury or simple pressure applications, can not these changes be studied?
  4. Seems to me that by categorizing the various body types, i.e. endomorphs, mesomorphs, and ectomorphs, adipose depots, muscle masses, subtended bone areas with thin tissue overlays, as on scalp or shins, condition of hydration vs. dehydration, all these variables could be isolated and studied thus yielding valuable information on the way the body responds to bites!
  5. Quantification of the predictability and validity of bitemark analysis
  6. Determination of things which effect interpretation of patterns. Value of individual and class characteristics. Value of methods.
  7. How reliable is bite mark analysis?
  8. Confidence levels in analyzing bruise marks from any source. For example, if the arrangement of capillaries on the surface of the skin were like that seen on a window screen instead of a tree-like arrangement, then one’s opinion could be elevated accordingly. This is the one of the reasons why there is so much controversy in this field and why innocent people are sent to prison on the basis of some misguided expert’s opinions.
  9. Differences among odontologists re: interpretation of guilt; how good is a bitemark for evidence? vs. interpretation; degree of certainty; etc.
  10. Develop database of large populations to give statistical relevance of tooth position and anomalies.
  11. Can specialized techniques such as trans-illumination and alternate light source techniques be proven valid and error free in a large group of observers?
  12. What is the perception of judges, police officers and the public regarding the evidentiary value of dermal bite marks as tools?
  13. Does the evidentiary value or “quality” of the bite mark have a bearing on the ability of the expert to undertake comparisons?

II. Dental Identification

  1. Why isn’t the forensic dental community more involved with the missing persons (antemortem) side of the MUP issue?
  2. I believe we have enough information and guidance in this area.
  3. We have assumed, on the basis of Kaiser-Nielsen’s work that individual tooth patterns find no two persons exactly alike. Do we really know this to be true? Or have we merely assumed and accepted this uniqueness to be a “default?” Can the probabilities be reduced to understandable data, so that a jury can understand this assumed uniqueness?
  4. Quantification of anomalies to see if they can increase an id link
  5. New materials, new analytical techniques available and their predictability
  6. How many characteristics are necessary to identify using all types of dental evidence from charts to radiographs to photographs?
  7. Do computer aided methods of dental record comparisons really save time in the long run over traditional manual methods?
  8. Differences among odontologists re: degree of certainty of identification of test cases; digital radiography vs. films; how common is marking of prostheses.
  9. Determine the reliability of dental chart identification as opposed to dental x-ray identification
  10. How many points of concordance are required for a dental identification? How many points are listed in the typical identification report for ABFO diplomates (range, median number)?
  11. Which points might be considered high quality, medium quality, and low quality points of identification?
  12. What are some of the pitfalls in undertaking radiologically assisted dental identification.
  13. Can identifications be reliably undertaken using dental casts in orthodontic cases where a) the teeth are present and b) the teeth are absent (rugae only) are used?
  14. What ante mortem source materials are favored when undertaking a dental identification (types of materials)? What is asked for and what is obtained? Are they always in agreement?

III. Mass Fatality Incident Management

  1. Role of the trained Forensic Odontologist in incident management at all levels.
  2. Is it necessary to have local/state dental identification teams since DMORT is the recognized leader in mass fatality incidents in the USA?
  3. How to integrate our state ID teams into mass disasters, and complement DMORT teams
  4. Has DNA ever negated a “sound” dental id?
  5. Define the dental role in mass disasters and determine how the dentist can be used as a resource for positions in the administration aspects of the mass disaster response.
  6. Development of a psychological test for the impact of a mass disaster on experienced dental personnel and inexperienced dental personnel with respect to the post traumatic stress of the incident.

IV. Person Abuse

  1. Can we, with statistical substantiation, say that certain injuries in child/elder/spousal abuse are pathonomonic of that abuse in 99% (or some other high percentage) of cases. Can these injuries be quantified? (With an eye to presenting this kind of data to a jury for consideration.)
  2. Review of cases to identify do’s and don’ts
  3. Current demographics of abusers and those abused
  4. Value of proper photographic documentation of the injuries.
  5. Are dental professionals adequately trained in dealing with potential victims and their families in the dental office?
  6. Does an examiner’s experience (number of cases actually completed) relate to the accuracy of the report?
  7. Better define the definition of abuse that should concern the dental team and cover individual state laws that address abuse reporting and prosecution.
  8. What is the frequency of reported elder abuse in institutional versus private care facilities?
  9. What is the average length of sentence for someone convicted of abusing elders?
  10. With what frequency is there dental evidence of abuse/neglect in elderly populations?
  11. With respect to children is there a link between poverty and dental neglect? If so how strong is this correlation?
  12. How many dental offices (general practitioners) have a plan for reporting child abuse? Do they have the contact information written down? Does every member of the team know what to do?
  13. In a confidential survey would general dental practitioners report suspected abuse, neglect and if so to whom?
  14. What is the typical sentence given to a person who abuses a child where a bite mark is involved? Does it differ from cases where bite marks are not involved?

V. Dental Jurisprudence / Expert Witness Testifying

  1. What research would be needed to be supportive of the forensic odontologist in professional competence, insurance fraud, or reasonable awards to recipients of injuries for which litigants seek compensation on an extended time line? (This is a broad field we really have not tapped into, so far as I can tell. Illustration, a child of 13 years is on school playground and sustains a dental injury. What constitute reasonable compensations to parents or developing teenager for on-going dental care with time as a reasonable anticipated support for professional care to be provided as the changes come in life as a consequence of the injury sustained?
  2. A database of cases in which a forensic dentist testified might be helpful.
  3. Keep an accurate update on dental case law and provide outlines for state statutes concerning dental cases.
  4. What is the frequency of involvement of odontologists in civil litigation cases?
  5. What areas create the most problems for general practitioners (i.e. surgical cases; inadequate diagnosis; inadequate treatment; dental / insurance fraud etc?
The American Board of Forensic Odontology, Inc.
Email: contact@abfo.org