Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Taking a Pathway Less Travelled

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Taking a Pathway Less Travelled

Article excerpt

WARWICK'S David Griffiths is not your regular dentist.

Over the course of his career, he has travelled extensively, helping people overcome the trauma of natural disasters.

He has worked alongside Australian Federal Police officers during the Victorian bushfires, the Bali bombings and the tsunami in Thailand.

These are probably not what many would consider typical undertakings for a dentist.

Dr Griffiths, who was recently appointed the principal dentist for the Southern Downs region of the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service, also works in the relatively new field of forensic dentistry.

To the uninitiated, he explains forensic dentistry as "identifying human bodies".

The field also has a compassionate, yet practical, purpose of reuniting human remains with their loved ones.

"It helps people through their grieving process," he said.

Dr Griffiths was inspired to gain formal qualifications in forensic dentistry after a murder mystery in Canberra sparked his interest in the early 1990s.

"The remains of a young woman were found in the bush and it was proving difficult identifying her," he said.

Eventually the woman was identified and her husband was arrested and spent time in jail. However, without the proper evidence, he was released only to commit another murder.

"I thought to myself at the time, there has to be a better way of doing things," he said.

Dr Griffiths went on to specialise in assault cases, especially where people had been bitten.

He continues to work with the Federal Police in Australia and South East Asia, providing training and sharing his knowledge in the highly specialised field.

And even though Dr Griffiths has taken the path less travelled in his career, two things have remained constant.

"I have a love for my chosen profession and for working with the public," he said. …

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