Mystery is always a popular genre for movies and television, but did you ever wonder how the coroners in those programs get access to the dental records of the deceased? Or how they can identify a body by their teeth? As you might expect, what they show on the screen isn’t quite the same as reality — what we can do with forensic dentistry is much cooler.

Not all dentists see patients day in and day out, some help fight crime in the field of forensic dentistry. If you watch crime or mystery programming, you’ve probably seen a coroner or a detective use dental records to confirm the identity of a victim or suspect. And although this is a valid use of dental records, it’s hardly a simple process since there’s no central database where all this information is stored. Plus, who knows when the last time was that the person in question had an x-ray (hey, have you had one lately?).

But, what I think is really neat is that from the teeth of the person in question, medical examiners can figure out all sorts of things, including where the person is from. They also can help point the way to the dentist that might have those decentralized dental records. Their teeth can show where and when their regular dentist was trained, helping to greatly narrow the list of potential sources of records.

Anyway, I won’t spoil the whole article for you! Check this out!