Tooth Prints can help save children's lives

The Arizona Republic, Section D.4

2004

Tooth Prints can help save children’s lives

Scottsdale – A tooth print takes less than a minute and it could save your child’s life.

Scottsdale dentist John Badolato makes impressions of children’s teeth with Tooth-prints, a product developed by Kerr Corp.

“It’s a quick, easy thing,” said Badolato, 33, who does not charge for the procedure. “I probably take about five tooth prints a week, and we just started offering them 30 days ago.”

For parents searching for a child who has been lost or abducted, tooth prints are a reliable means of identification.

The impression records individual tooth characteristics and the relationship between the upper and lower jaw. It also captures a DNA sample and a saliva scent.

Children don’t mind it because it’s quick and easy and doesn’t hurt.

On a recent afternoon, Garrett Marquis, 5, clambered happily into Badolato’s dentist chair.

After Badolato warmed a small thermoplastic U-shaped wafer in hot water, Garrett dutifully bit down on it.

In less than a minute, the mold of Garrett’s teeth was complete.

Badolato put it in a bag for Garrett’s mom, Nancy, to take home.

“No big deal.” Garrett said.

Nancy Marquis said it never occurred to her to get an impression of Garrett’s teeth until Badolato told her about the procedure.

“I always thought about fingerprints, but I never knew about dental impressions until a few weeks ago,” the Scottsdale resident said. “It’s something you don’t really think about until you need to.”

Children should have new prints taken every year until they get all their adult teeth, Badolato said.

A pediatric dentist in Boston created a quick, low-cost method for creating tooth prints about 15 years ago, said Mike Etheridge, vice president of marketing for California-based Kerr Corp. Kerr developed the product and began marketing it to dental professionals in July 2003.

“Today, there are probably 5,000 dentists across the country using Toothprints,” Etheridge said.

Despite interest from retailers, the product is not available to the public, Etheridge added. Kerr sells only to dental professionals.

Badolato said Toothprints is a great compliment to the Amber Alert program, an emergency response used by police to notify the public of kidnapped children through radio, TV and the internet.