Archive for July, 2012

Forensic Dentistry

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

By Dr. James Wood, DDS

Forensic Dentistry. It isn’t exactly what you see on “CSI” or “NCIS.” There is no way to be out in the field with skeletal remains, dictate the fillings to some federal agency and magically have an identity in seconds. There is no international repository of teeth that would allow us to match them up to a bitemark.

Forensic Dentists assist law enforcement, coroners, and the legal system in a variety of ways – dental identification, bitemark analysis, documentation of injuries, fraud investigation. The lion’s share of the work is in the realm of human identification by dental means.

The most critical information necessary to assist a forensic dentist in a dental identification is complete and accurate antemortem (before death) records. I can’t stress enough how important these records are – especially original dental xrays and charting. Since we are dealing with often minute details original xrays make a huge difference in comparing boney trabeculae, the floor of the sinus, even an overhang of restorative material, or calculus. We don’t serve to critique anyone’s dentistry and I only use the records to make an identification. When a law enforcement agency, coroner or medical examiner requests your records you should copy them for yourself and submit the originals. HIPPA no longer applies when this request is made. If you elect to resist the request, the agency will return with a court-order – probably in the middle of your day with a reception room full of patients……… Consider the family of the deceased that is looking for answers. With good antemortem records and sufficient postmortem remains to examine and compare to, an identification can happen very quickly in most cases. This saves the investigating agency significant time and resources and helps the family begin the process of closure on their loss.

People often ask me how they can get into the field of Forensic Dentistry. My first response is always the same – get as much education in the field as you can. There are a variety of educational opportunities available. A good place to start looking for courses is through the American Society of Forensic Odontology ( This is the entry level organization for forensic dentists (or odontologists) and has an annual meeting in conjunction with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences ( There are some excellent courses out there and the costs are very reasonable. Once you have some background education you become more than someone just looking over the shoulder in an autopsy – you become a potential resource.

No television show can ever really capture the essence of or prepare you for examining a deceased person. It can be overwhelming to all of your senses. Those of us who perform this work on a regular basis have learned to compartmentalize a lot of things to deal with the individual cases we work on. However, it is one of the most professionally rewarding things that I do in the practice of dentistry.


Dr. Wood is a graduate of Loma Linda University of Dentistry.  He has maintained a family practice in Cloverdale since 1987. Dr. Wood is a Forensic Dental Consultant to six northern California counties and the California Department of Justice Missing/Unidentified Persons Unit. Dr. Wood was a co-found of the California Dental Identification team. He is also a member of the Federal Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. Dr. Wood is an active member of his community. He is a member of the Healdsburg City Council and served as the mayor in 2012.

ODA Dental Health and Wellness Committee

Monday, July 16th, 2012

By Dr. Todd Beck


As dentists we manage the stress and anxiety of our patients every day.  We have developed a rich and complex skill set that allows us to provide much needed treatment to people who are not always appreciative and most often fearful, anxious and even sometimes angry.  We do all of this with the self imposed need for perfection and under the backdrop of a troubled economy; a combination which, as best, makes owning and running a small business a daunting task.  Add to all of that the unique challenges of managing employees and it is no wonder why most of us choose to work only four days a week.

We have CE courses and study clubs for everything from practice management to placing gold restorations.  But where do we turn for help with the emotional and personal issues we face?  Where do we go to get tips on how to better cope with our fear, anxiety and depression?  How do we get help when our coping mechanisms include drugs and alcohol?  Who do we turn to if we are suffering the anxiety of a board complaint or a lawsuit?  This is where the Dentist Health and Wellness Committee might be able to help.

I have been involved with the DHWC for over 12 years now.  In 2000 I reached out to the committee for help.  I was struggling with an addiction to narcotic pain medicine and my world was falling apart.  What I received was an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and excellent advice and direction.  It was a phone call to this committee that started the process of getting my life back on track.  At that moment I decided the rest of my career would involve “paying it forward”.

The work we do is most often anonymous; and for good reason.  We are dealing with very sensitive and personal issues.  We get referrals from the Board of Dentistry, concerned staff and family members, attorneys and dentists themselves.  The issues range from general stress to suicidal thoughts.  The ages range from dental students to retirees.  The request is always the same; “I just need someone to listen, I don’t know what to do”.  The response is always the same; “I’m glad you called; let’s see how we can help you”.

I need to be clear.  None of us on this committee have the training nor are we able to solve these problems by ourselves.  What we do have are the resources to point people in the right direction.  We are often the first step in the journey to healing and a better life.  We are an ear and a shoulder, and sometimes that is all that is needed.

If you or someone you know might need our help, please don’t hesitate to call our anonymous hotline at 503-550-0190


Dr. Beck graduated from OHSU in ’94 and completed a two year GPR at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, OK in ’96.  After practicing and teaching for a few years in Oklahoma, Dr. Beck returned to Portland in 1999 and purchased Mt. Tabor Dental.  Dr. Beck opened a second location at South Waterfront in 2010 and for the past decade has been an Assistant Professor at OHSU in the departments of Community Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry and Urgent Care.  Dr. Beck has served as Chair of the Dentist Health and Wellness Committee for the past seven years, is on the Board of Directors for the OAGD and is currently President of the Multnomah County Dental Association.

Out of State Volunteer Dentists Now able to Practice Pro-Bono in Oregon with New Temporary License Bill

Monday, July 9th, 2012

By: ODA Staff

The 2012 passage of SB 1509, which authorizes dental professionals who are licensed in other states and in good standing to practice dentistry without compensation in Oregon, was a celebrated victory for the Oregon Dental Association.

Oregon is now among the 39 other states, a growing number, that are providing dental boards the authority to license volunteer dentists who agree to donate their services to underserved populations, in an attempt to improve access to dental care.

“The passage of this bill will mean increased man-power at things like the Oregon Mission of Mercy. Which will, in turn, allow us to see and treat more people” said ODA Executive Director, Bill Zepp. Oregon Mission of Mercy is the ODA’s annual 2-day free dental clinic.  Last year 2,023 patients were seen over the 2 day clinic, which gave over $1.23million in free care out on a first come first serve basis. “This year, OrMOM is in Medford in September, so we are excited to be able to recruit willing dentists from across the border to help,” continued Zepp.

At the 2011 Mission Mercy we gave $1.2 million in free care to over 2,000 people at the Convention Center, Thanksgiving week, all thanks to our volunteers! To learn more about Oregon Mission of Mercy visit our website.

This temporary license is good for up to 5 consecutive days in any 12 month period, after the application is approved by the Oregon Board of Dentistry.

We are still looking for volunteers for this year’s Mission of Mercy in Medford, Oregon. If you are interested in getting a temporary license, fill out this form. The Board requires at least ten days to process the form, so get your application in early!


The New OHSU School of Dentistry Building

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

By Jack Clinton, D.M.D. `64, Dean Emeritus, OHSU School of Dentistry

OHSU School of Dean Emeritus Jack Clinton, D.M.D. `64 (second from left) tells Gene Skourtes (second from right) about the new dental school building while Bonnie (left) and Nick (far right) Skourtes listen.

This is an exciting time to be in dentistry. In case you haven’t heard, a new building is under construction for the OHSU School of Dentistry!

Our new facility is located on Portland’s South Waterfront in the OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences Building (CLSB). Beginning fall of 2014, all dental education, research, and patient care will move to South Waterfront.

The dental school portion of the 480,000 square foot CLSB building is a six-floor tower on the north side. We are calling our tower the Skourtes Tower after our major donors, Gene and Bonnie Skourtes. We are truly grateful to them and to our other major donors, ODS Health and Adec, Inc., as well as to the Oregon Dental Association, which has pledged $250,000 to the project. These gifts met the university challenge of raising $18 million before Aug. 1, 2011, to gain approval to construct the new building.

Whether or not you are a graduate from OHSU School of Dentistry, every one of you has a stake in our new facility because it represents the future of dentistry in Oregon. The new building will enable us to:

  • Teach students in a setting that reflects a modern dental practice, with private, modern 120-square foot operatories—more than twice the size we have now
  • Broaden services to patients including improved privacy, extended hours, and the latest technologies and procedures;
  • Train more dental professionals by increasing our entering class size to 90 from 75 and adding an advanced education in general dentistry program (AEGD);
  • Stimulate research and clinical innovation with the interdisciplinary nature of the building providing increased potential for collaborations and basic science instruction for all OHSU and OUS undergraduates in the same location.

With a number of Oregon dentists nearing retirement age, having the expertise at hand to care for a population with increasing dental needs will be essential and a new building to continue our strong tradition of clinical excellence is the first step toward this workforce gap. With technology changing continually and increasing what dentists need to know to care for their patients, a modern facility is critical.

I’m happy to report that construction on the new building is going fast and remains on schedule. Contractors have completed the final slab pours on level one and shored up level two to begin pours there. The school’s lobby has been poured, as well as the floor for the school’s classrooms, student locker rooms and logistics space. It has been inspiring to see the building go up and to take the initial walk-throughs with representatives from JE Dunn Construction.

We have $14 million more to raise for our $43 million fundraising goal and we invite you to join us as we create this legacy for all of us. Our moment is here!

For more information on the new building, go to and click on New Building. To make a gift, contact Development Director Patrick J. Regan, (503) 494-0980,


Here is what our new dental school building looks like as of late May. The left side of the photo is our new lobby!


Jack Clinton, D.M.D., is Dean Emeritus of the OHSU School of Dentistry. He is a 1964 graduate of the dental school and has held a variety of administrative roles there over the past 30 years, most recently as dean from 2004 to 2011.