INTERNATION AL ORG ANIS ATION FOR FORENSIC ODONTO-STOM ATOLOGY
Vol 28, April 2004
Editors page________________________________________________________________ 2
Presidents page _____________________________________________________________ 3
From the National Societies ___________________________________________________ 4
The Swiss group of forensic Odontology (FOCH)
Forensic Odontology in China and the Hong Kong meeting
Dr. George Burgman _________________________________________________________ 7
Meeting in “American Academy of Forensic Science” (AAFS) _______________________ 8
IOFOS's meeting in Lillehammer, Norway. March, 11 -14, 2004______________________ 9
Professor Gunnar Johanson, Sweden, ___________________________________________ 11
Coming Events ____________________________________________________________ 12
A typical international meeting (Lillehammer, Norway, March 2004)
Editor: Dr. Wencke Stene-Johansen, Parkveien 60, 0254 Oslo, Norway
After an inspiring meeting in the Norwegian mountains, we are full of inputs from IOFOS
members from different parts of Europe, India and South Africa. We would so much like to
include more countries in the IOFOS experience – so we have a dream… Our treasurer will
share his dreams and hopes with us all in this edition’s “guest editorial”:
Looking for friends
The IOFOS is the only world-wide dental forensic organisation, but consists of only 14
membership-paying countries. Nevertheless, these countries are situated in many parts of the
world (see list below), but we would so much like to expand and strengthen our organisation.
What can we do to attract more members? We know there are forensic organisations in many
countries which are not members of IOFOS, and we know that in some countries colleagues
think of forming an organisation to become an IOFOS member, but this procedure apparently
needs help. You, who read this, are in most cases already member of an organisation
belonging to IOFOS, and you may know friends and colleagues in other countries who only
need your approach to take the necessary steps.
Being the treasurer of IOFOS, I am not very happy collecting fees from only 14 countries,
although this number exceeds that of previous years. Getting more members and more money
would make it easier to arrange and to subsidise courses and seminars that we all would
benefit from, it would be easier to influence the authorities to improve their understanding of
our wishes and demands in the different fields we work in, like for instant Quality Assurance.
This subject, that was thoroughly discussed in the recent arranged meeting at Lillehammer,
with participants from 10 countries, just happened to coincide with the explosions on the
railway in Madrid, causing the death of almost 200 persons. Luckily enough, the Spanish
were able to handle the identification work of all these victims themselves, but most nations
in the world would not. They would have to call for assistance from a number of other
countries, and it is easy to imagine the problems we would face if forensic specialists from
different countries with different methods of working should perform together. How much
better and easier if we all could work along the same guidelines, given by IOFOS!
So my hopes and wishes are that IOFOS in the “Norwegian period” would expand from its
present 14 members: Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany,
Iceland, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and USA into 20 as a first
step, and thus become the strong guideline organisation it should be.
Am I too optimistic?
Dr. Leif Grusd, treasurer IOFOS email@example.com
President: Professor Tore Solheim Solheim@odont.uio.no
Vice president: Ass. Professor Sigrid I. Kvaal firstname.lastname@example.org
Treasurer: Dr. Leif Grusd email@example.com
Editor: Dr. Wencke Stene-Johansen firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Newsletter no 3, 2003 the Vice-president described the IOFOS meeting at Hafjell,
Norway, with the aim of establishing IOFOS guidelines for quality assurance. She also
pointed out the importance for the forensic odontologist to have such guidelines.
Before the meeting I had made some proposals to guidelines in the different fields of forensic
odontology. These were posted on our web site. One of the main purposes of the meeting
was to work on these guidelines in groups. Each group came up with suggestions for
improvements of the suggested guidelines. Knowing the difficulty of international
agreements on procedures, only working steps were specified, not which methods used or
what a quality result is. They were also asked to differentiate between required steps and
recommended steps. Quality assurance guidelines are there in order to make sure no step in an
investigation is forgotten. It should also be a learning tool for young forensic odontologists.
The guidelines we make should be for the future, not for the past. All evidence around the
world indicates increased demands for details and accuracy in legal reports.
To my astonishment, the colleagues were more occupied with deletion of steps rather than
supplementing. We will now in the IOFOS executive critically review the suggestions from
the groups. We will take their advice, but reserve the right to do what we think is necessary
adjustments. We will then set up a new set of guidelines where steps which the groups found
not really necessary, will be classified as only recommended. This new set of guidelines will
be sent to each member society for comments. We will further suggest that they should be
adopted by the society. On the web site we will indicate which society adheres to these
guidelines and we will ask all who do so, to write that in the reports they produce.
We are well aware that some procedure steps may cause problems in some countries due to
jurisdiction. However, those will be marked blue to indicate they are only recommended.
They thus may well be omitted from the procedures or report without any explanation.
Hopefully that may satisfy those opposed or reluctant. However, few jurisdictions will
prevent the expert from doing more than is expected. The trouble with forensic odontology
reports is that they may not really satisfy the judicial requirements. Our argument is that it is
rare that people make their work more complicated if they are themselves satisfied with their
own way. This does not bring us forward. The quality may be improved by seeing and
hearing what others do. It may then occur to the individual forensic odontologist that this was
a good idea after all.
IOFOS will have two other arrangements next year. In the end of June we have the one week
course in Identification in Oslo. It will now be the 5th time this course is arranged. Teachers
are from all Nordic countries and the techniques used in these countries are presented. The
techniques are recommended by Interpol and should be acceptable through out the world.
The second arrangement is the IAFS meeting in Hong Kong which includes sessions in
forensic odontology. It is the only general world wide meeting in our subject. An orientation
is given by Dr. Carl Leung from Hong Kong in this Newsletter. He is IOFOS appointed
contact and representative at this meeting. It will also be the venue of the General Assembly
for IOFOS. We strongly encourage interested colleagues to include Hong Kong in their
Tore Solheim email@example.com
From the National Societies
The Swiss group of forensic Odontology (FOCH)
It is my pleasure to inform
IOFOS about our Swiss group
of forensic odontology. The
first report issued in IOFOS
Newsletter was published in
September 1998. It is now the
wish of our group to become an
official member of the Swiss
Society of Forensic Medicine.
If the majority of its members
accept our application, we hope
to be able to join IOFOS.
Our historical background
The group of the Swiss odontologists (FOCH) was founded November 13th, 1997. The group
gets together every 6 months. Today, 10 dentists from different parts of our country meet in
Zurich twice a year. Our objectives and doctrines are discussed. Medical examiners and
sometimes also representatives of the legal authorities and the police are present and active in
our discussions. Dr. S. Benthaus of the German BKA is our regular guest and a welcomed
The main topics are:
-Identification procedures (incl. mass disasters)
Members of the FOCH have been involved in the identification procedures of several mass
disasters: The air crashes Alitalia-Crash 1990, Crossair-Crash 2000 and 2001 all near Zurich.
The Swiss group was also involved in the identification work after the "sect of the solar
temple" 1994 near Lausanne and the Canyoning-Accident near Interlaken 1999. Some mass
disaster victims had to be identified in Switzerland such as in the case of the massacre of
Having some reservations regarding the F1 and F2 sections of the Interpol DVI form, we
developed a so-called Swiss Dental ID form that has become the official dental form of
identification in our country. It has been a valuable tool for the odontologists in every mass
disaster case since 1997.
At the end of last year, a manual of Age Estimation for children and young adults, written by
Dr. Bernhard Knell, was distributed to all the members of the FOCH. It is a basic tool for age
estimation cases in all forensic institutes of Switzerland.
Congress and Lectures
Most of our members teach forensic odontology in the 4 dental schools of Switzerland. In
1998, Dr Michel Perrier organized a course in forensic odontology in Lausanne with
international speakers. In 2003, he organized the BAFO meeting in Glion near Montreux.
Members of our group actively participate as lecturers in international courses and congresses
(Course in Forensic Odontology – Identification, Stockholm-Oslo; AGFAD, Berlin; AAFS,
USA, AKFOS, Mainz, European Academy of Forensic Science, Istanbul and many others) I
hope these few lines will give you an idea of the group of Forensic Odontologists in
Dr. Bernhard Knell firstname.lastname@example.org
Forensic Odontology in China and the Hong Kong meeting
History of the Forensic Odontology Group of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
The dental school was established in 1980.
In 1982, there was a ship disaster in the
South China Sea near Hong Kong.
Professor Ron Fearnhead from University
of London set up the Forensic Odontology
Group (FOG) to assist the DVI. Since then,
the group has constantly been cooperating
with the police in daily forensic cases.
Dr Philipsen was the head of FOG when
Professor Fearnhead retired in 1986. I am
the first Chinese who joined the group in
1988 as a student. I then received my post
graduate training in forensic odontology
under the guidance of Professor John
Clement in the University of Melbourne. I
am then the first Chinese trained in Forensic
FOG was then run only by Chinese when
Dr Philipsen left Hong Kong in 1995. At
the moment, we have three active members
in the group. Apart from me, there is an oral
radiologist and a general practitioner. We
also have a group of about 10 dentists who
are interested in forensic science, and we have provided some basic training for them. Each
year, we will also select two final year students to be trained in the group.
The group has full support from the dental hospital. We have access to all the facilities in the
hospital, including radiographers and dental nurses in cases of mass disasters. We take care of
about 10 cases per year from the police, ranging from identification, bite mark to age
assessment. Our group has experience from several mass disasters both locally and
internationally, which includes the Lauda Air 1992 in Bangkok and also the
Bali Bomb Attack in 2002. We are also involved in training of police officers, nurses and
dental students. Personally, I am also involved in training of forensic dentists in the
neighbouring countries. It is interesting to know that there is no forensic dentist in the
mainland of China. The anthropologists are taking care of everything.
Preparation of IAFS
I am now a member of the organising committee of IAFS. We have set up the date of the
meeting and are awaiting the final details. We have proposed two workshops in forensic
dentistry. One of them will be facial reconstruction, which will be hosted by Ron Taylor from
Melbourne. The other one will be a mock exercise of DVI which will be hosted by Professor
John Clement from Melbourne. We are waiting for the final approval from the central
committee. We are expecting more than 1,000 delegates from China. We are hoping that we
can provide some basic training in forensic dentistry for them. There is at least one half day
session with forensic dentistry. For the speakers, I have already located some of them and
they have promised to come.
I am now in contact with INTERPOL DVI, hoping that they will arrange their 2005 annual
meeting in Hong Kong, in order to attract more participants. We have also planned for the
meeting delegates to visit our dental hospital as part of our programme.
Promotion of IAFS
I have been travelling extensively in the region to promote the meeting.
July 03 in Bali INTERPOL meeting
July 03 in Geneva ICRC workshop
Nov 03 and Feb 04 visit to Singapore Forensic Institute
Dec 03 visit in Tokyo Dental College
March 04 in Wellington ANZFSS
Sept 04 in Manila IMPLAMS
Oct 04 in Dali, China Cranio Facial Identification Association
Carl Leung email@example.com
Dr. George Burgman
passed away after a heart attack, on January 13, 2004, just 2 days before
his 80th birthday. Dr. Burgman was a private practitioner in Niagara
Falls, Canada, for many years. He was also an active forensic
odontologist and was the president of the American Society of Forensic
Odontology 1991 – 1992.
However, for IOFOS he will most of all be remember as the initiator and
custodian of the Worldwide Forensic Odontology Contact (WFOC)
list. This list started as a printed booklet in 1991, but it soon became clear
that the number of changes were so large that it needed updating almost before it came out in
print. It was then decided that an electronic version was preferable, a version which could be
updated on a daily basis. For some ten years this data base was hosted at the Dental School at
the Malmö University in Sweden with the assistance of Dr. Bengt Sundström. When Dr.
Sundström passed away in the beginning of last year, I took over the responsibility of WFOC
under the IOFOS umbrella. It was also expressed by Dr. Burgman that this list should be
taken over by IOFOS when he no longer was able to continue his work.
To maintain this list is a tremendous work, and Dr. Burgman wrote, faxed and e-mailed
dentists in more than 150 countries to get names, addresses etc of dentists which could be
contacted if help was needed in the respective countries to retrieve e.g. dental records for
identification. Even if the response often was meagre, he never gave up, and he is now to be
thanked for the list which is available on IOFOS homepage.
The eldest son of Dr. Burgman wrote the following, which I will pass on to the forensic
”I would like to personally express my appreciation to everyone who participated in the
WFOC project over the years. My father greatly enjoyed working on it and especially enjoyed
communicating with all of the various people from around the world.”
John Burgman (eldest son)
Prof.em. consultant in forensic odontology
Please note that WFOC continues and is now managed by Dr. Håkan Mörnstad of Sweden.
Address all correspondence including updates to Hakan.Mornstad@forodont.se
Meeting in “American Academy of Forensic Science” (AAFS)
Dallas, Texas. February 16th – 21st 2004
This annual meeting is also a meeting for the American Society of Forensic Odontology
(ASFO). They have one day with a separate meeting which this year dealt with the legal
systems in different countries. However, as most countries giving presentations have the
adversary system, the speakers also had to expand onto other fields. However, Eddy de Valck
from Belgium presented nicely the inquisitory or Napoleonic system used in most continental
In the General Assembly the same day Dr. J Curtis Dailey from Georgia was elected as the
new president. ASFO has always been a keen member of IOFOS. They have had a great
increase in members and interest in forensic odontology after the 11th of September 2001 and
ASFO now has about 1100 members. However, because of the great number of members,
they have not been able to distribute our Newsletter to all members.
On the AAFS meeting two full days were devoted to forensic odontology, the first day dealt
basically with identification and the second day with tooth mark examinations. About 150
forensic odontologists from all over the US attended. A few interesting reports will be
Richard Weems from Alabama demonstrated a case where a post in a tooth was totally
invisible on radiographs. It was made of carbon.
David Scott from San Antonio showed how he, with the help of the computer program
Photoshop, was able to enhance the picture by filtration, so that the contour of an alveolus
invisible to the eye on the original picture became apparent. Comparison with radiographs
from a missing person before the tooth was extracted could be performed.
Richard Fixott from Oregon described a training session where dentists were asked to enter
data from dental records into the WinID program. This is the computer program which is
mainly used for identification in the US. Many mistakes and omissions in the registrations
were disclosed. Especially the so called secondary codes were difficult. Dr Fixott suggested
training session in small groups before dentists were allowed to work with the program in a
Age estimation of young adults is important also in America. Kathleen Kaspar from San
Antonio had performed an investigation of the development of wisdom teeth in Hispanics
based on the technique described by Demirjian. She found slightly earlier development than
in Caucasians. Also Laura Kaiser from San Antonio found one to two years earlier
development of wisdom teeth in Negroids that in Caucasians. This is an important finding for
people who estimate the age of young refugees. However, another investigation by Harry
Mincer concluded with only slightly earlier development in Negroids. Guy Willems from
Belgium tried with not so good result to apply Kvaal’s radiographic method for adults on
orthopantomograms. The technique is based on periapical dental radiographs.
Computer programs for various purposes were demonstrated. John Carson from West
Virginia demonstrated one, MICS, which could dramatically increase the quality of
radiographs. In another program Kenneth Aschheim from New York had made filters to be
used with WinID. The idea was that it should be easier to find the match when searching.
In a shocking story from Arizona a man was sentenced to death mainly based on the
comparison of tooth marks. Later DNA analysis showed the saliva of another person in the
area and the man on death row was set free. A lawyer from San Diego, Christopher Plourd,
said forensic odontologists should work more with tooth marks to make the comparison more
reliable. This was just one of many cases like this in the US. Michael Sobel from Pittsburgh
presented two cases where obviously another object had caused the marks while forensic
odontologists believed they were results of bites and concluded that the marks might come
from a suspect. Both he and Richard Souviron from Florida, one of the top experts in the US
today, agreed that it is of utmost importance to know as much as possible about the case
before giving any conclusion. This may be new ideas in the US and Souviron had even
constructed a protocol to be completed before ha made any examination of tooth marks.
George Gould from California had made an investigation where test bites were circulated to
40 forensic odontologists and he recommended 7 different conclusions based on probabilities.
In this way, according to his opinion, tooth mark comparisons could be a scientific method.
Another intriguing program was presented by David Hart from Boston where all children in
Massachusetts were required to bite into wax to register their bite. In addition, a saliva
sample was taken and stored for possible later DNA analysis. The reason is that many
children in America disappear every year and can rarely be identified based on dental records.
Tore Solheim, firstname.lastname@example.org
IOFOS's meeting in Lillehammer, Norway. March, 11 -14, 2004
Quality Assurance and Quality Development in Forensic Odontology,
Twenty-three forensic odontologists met last March
in the beautiful settings of the mountains outside
Lillehammer, Norway, to discuss quality assurance in
forensic odontology. The aim of the meeting was to
produce”Recommended Procedures” for use in the
daily work with forensic odontology.
Forensic odontology is perhaps more art than science,
and the intention was to produce guide lines based on
scientific facts and generally accepted standards, i.e.
evidence based forensic odontology.
The president of IOFOS, Tore Solheim, had made admirable preparations for the meeting by
producing several drafts, which then could be used as basis for the working groups and the
The following areas were discussed:
• Large disasters
• Age estimation
• Tooth marks
• Dental injuries
• The forensic odontology report
The participants were divided into groups according to their special interests and about five
hours were allocated to improve or change the proposed procedures. The suggested changes
were then discussed in plenum. As you might guess, the discussions were intense and
colourful. Anyhow, the changes were accepted in most cases and they are now left to Tore
Solheim for amalgamation and rewriting. The result of this will show up on the IOFOS
homepage in due time.
It was agreed upon that further discussions were needed and that at least three consensus
meetings on identification, age estimation and bite marks, respectively, are needed. These
meetings are planned to take place in the years to come.
Tore Solheim and the organisation committee are thanked for the nice arrangement of the
meeting, which also included an ad hoc course in skiing for some of the participants, as seen
Håkan Mörnstad, prof.em. Consultant in forensic odontology Hakan.Mornstad@forodont.se
Dr. Grusd escorting Dr. Anastasia Mitsea, Athens in the ski slopes.
Professor Gunnar Johanson, Sweden,
has passed away at an age of almost 80 years.
Gunnar Johanson got his undergraduate degree from the Dental
School in Malmö, Sweden, in 1951. After some years with
postgraduate education in oral surgery and periodontology he left
the University to work in a private dental clinic.
However, a broken leg caused sick leave from his practice. This
time he spent in the department of Professor Gösta Gustafson, one
of the grand old men in forensic odontology. During this time he
started his research in age determination, and in 1971 he defended
his thesis “Age determinations from human teeth.” This work
was widely appreciated for its improvement of the original
Gustafson method. At about the same, he took over the practical
forensic odontology activities in the southern part of Sweden. At
that time forensic odontology was rather disorganised, and Gunnar Johanson gradually built a
local organisation to assist the police and forensic pathologists to identify human remains.
When, in 1975, the National Board of Social and Health Welfare instituted the first fulltime
position in forensic odontology at the department of forensic medicine in Stockholm, Gunnar
Johanson was the natural choice for the position. He soon developed a large network of
contacts, and was the driving force to establish a National Identification Commission, which
was set up a few years later.
Apart from the daily work as a forensic odontologist he took part in a large number of
international projects, and he was very successful in marketing forensic odontology. His
inherited combination of a kind and correct personality was here very helpful.
He made prominent works within research and development, and he was often invited as
lecturer nationally as well as internationally. He helped several younger colleagues to start
research projects; some of them large, others small, and he initiated postgraduate education
for dentists in mass disaster identification. As a tribute to his eminent work, he was awarded a
professors title by the government.
Gunnar Johanson was the founder of the Swedish Society for Forensic Odontology in 1979,
and a warm supporter of the Nordic Organization for Forensic Odonto-Stomatology”, which
was founded in 1963. He was the secretary of IOFOS for several years. It should also be
mentioned that he was an active Rotarian, and one of the initiators of “Rotary’s Dentists
Bank”; an organisation which on a voluntary basis sends dentists to poor parts of Africa.
After retirement in 1990, he moved back to Malmö, and he could spend more time on his
other interests, such as research in his ancestors, and not to forget, to help his successors in
the forensic profession.
Gunnar will be remembered as a gentleman.
Prof.em. consultant in forensic odontology
22 - 25 April 2004: Bruges, Belgium Cross Channel Conference by Royal Belgian Society of
Forensic Medicine http://membres.lycos.fr/ccc2004
27 June – 3 July 2005: IOFOS Course in Identification, one week in Oslo, Norway.
Information from professor Tore Solheim email@example.com
21 – 26 August 2005: IAFS (International Association of Forensic Sciences) 17th meeting in
Hong Kong. Website: www.iafs2005.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Carl Leung
Do you know of any more meetings? Let us know! Ed.