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The missing link.

The evolution of dentistry has brought about many changes over the years. I have been part of the dental profession for 28 years serving as a Certified Dental Assistant, an office manager, a consultant and now as an educator. When I entered dental assisting school many years ago I never dreamed that dentistry could reach the levels it has today. From improvements in dental materials to the mandatory regulations for sterilization, it has changed the way we prioritize in the dental office. Our profession has come a long way and we have learned so much from it. A fair assumption would be that within the next 15 years the profession will be that much further advanced then it is today.

Alarming Statistics

As dentistry has changed over the years, so has the world we live in. Children and teenagers today are far more at risk of being abducted then ever before. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Justice National Incidence Studies reported that 354,100 children experienced family abductions; 3,200-4,600 were non-family abductions, many of which end in death; 450,700 were runaways; 127,100 children were "throw-aways," and 139,100 were lost, injured, or otherwise missing.

In 2001, the FBI National Crime Information Center reported 840,279 missing persons adults and juveniles) in the United States. They estimated that 85-90% of the missing persons were juveniles. Thus the approximation averaged out to 2,000 per day.

Today there are thousands of registered sex offenders in the nation. The national studies report over half of these child abduction murders are committed by a stranger. The average age of an abductor is around 27 years old, and the majority of the abductors are unmarried and either live alone or live at home.

Stronger Identity

In this fast paced society we live in, the need for child identification is imperative. CHIP (Child Identification Program), which is sponsored by the Freemasons, is an identification program that has been implemented in 20 states for many years. At the time it was first implemented CHIP consisted of providing fingerprinting along with an individual videotaped interview giving much more information than any other identification program.

In 1998 Dr. David B. Harte, a Mason of Milton, Massachusetts, dentist, and current Director of CHIP, connected The Missing Link to the program. He implemented Toothprints[R] into the program, a bite impression developed by Dr. David Tesini, unquestionably making it the most comprehensive identification program in the nation. The saliva on the Toothprint not only acts as a powerful "scent tracer" for FBI recovery dogs but it can also provide a DNA sample. Children are now instructed to leave a "spit trail" if lost in the woods or mountains, which can lead to a fast and safe recovery by search and rescue canine recovery teams. Toothprints, like fingerprints, are unique, yet more durable since teeth can withstand temperatures up to 5000[degrees]F, and can easily differentiate even identical twins. It captures the size, shape, anatomy, restorations, and articulation of teeth leaving nothing out. With the advent of fluoridated water, dental sealants, and dental education the children's teeth are often restorative-free. For years positive identification was made through dental charts. Today 70% of the children are filling-free, leaving a blank patient chart to follow. The Toothprint impression is so definitive that it even picks up the imprint of a dental sealant, which many children have.

The Freemasons joined with the Massachusetts Dental Society in February 1999 and with the Massachusetts Crime Prevention Officers Association in June 1999 to collectively offer the most comprehensive child identification program in the world. CHIP is provided free of charge to the public and all of the identifying items generated are given to the children's family. The program consists of the following three components:

* Videotaping: The CHIP interview captures the appearance, speech, mannerisms, and other important personal characteristics of a child that a still photograph cannot.

* Questions can often lead to the return of children.

* Smile Image can lead to positive identification.

* Fingerprinting: This as we know is a well known means of identification and even more important for investigative purposes. There are no two fingerprints alike.

* Toothprints[R]: The bite impression is quick and easy to fabricate. The imprint gives accurate information for identification purposes showing tooth site, architecture and bite relation, which is an invaluable tool.

With the growing need for protection in our country from the rapidly increasing number of successful abductions, it is essential that we, as a nation, join together involving our children in this program to make our world a safer and happier place to live. I urge all of you to visit the CHIP website and start making a difference in the community you live in.

CHIP Child Identification Program

[check] Videotaping

[check] Fingerprinting

[check] Toothprinting

For more information please visit or call 1-800-882-1020 x 214.


Crowley K, Harte DB, Tesini DA (1999, Summer). Dentistry's Role In Identification of Missing and Unknown Children: Update on The Dental Bite Impression Technique. J Massachusetts Dental Society, 48 (2). 29-34.

Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nation Crime Information Center (NCIC), Missing Person File. (2001). Faxed Sheet: Fact Sheet 2001 Missing Children Statistics, (p. 1).

Massachusetts Freemasons News Release. (2002). John and Magi Bish Present Need for Comprehensive CHIP ID Program to Norfolk County Leaders.

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (1990, May). Faxed Sheet: Fact Sheet on Missing Children. National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children, (pp. 1-19)

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice And Delinquency Prevention. (1990). Faxed Sheet: Case Management for Missing Children Homicide Investigation, (pp. 1-6).

Laura J. Najjar, CDA, CDPMA, BA, M.Ed is currently adjunct faculty member in the Department of Dental Assisting at Massasoit Community College with over 25 years of experience including chairside assisting, office coordination, and insurance specializing. She received her Dental Assistant Certificate from the Northeastern/Tufts Dental Assistant Program in Boston, B.A. in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and Masters in Education from Cambridge College in Cambridge, MA. She recently coordinated a post-graduate certificate curriculum for Allied Dental Health Professionals at Cambridge College.
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Title Annotation:child identification tools are more important than ever
Author:Najjar, Laura J.
Publication:The Dental Assistant
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Previous Article:ADAA Foundation Funds Dental Assistants affected by World Trade Center disaster. (Association Bulletin).
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