Dentists have a legal responsibility to keep dental records for years, but the use of dental records for identification is less accurate than DNA. In fact there are examples where people have even been wrongfully convicted by dental expert evidence so the move away relying on dental records beyond the most simple screening protocols may be justified.
A person’s dental record changes more now that ever before for many reasons. Modern fillings often needs more frequent replacement than the mercury based silver amalgams that are being phased out by most dentists. Patients are having their smiles transformed with veneers, orthodontics and aligners and their teeth can look different in only one visit.
Patients are more transient and changing dentists means their records end up in a dentist’s basement or garage without being accessible to a national search. All these factors suggest that the long term storage of dental records may be of questionable value and instead dentists could be actively involved in a voluntary DNA collection program...