According to the Journal of the American Dental Association ([removed]JADA[/removed]), orthodontists have an “extensive set of skills” that could be tapped to help the nation respond in the event of a mass disaster.

“We [dentists] are well-versed in the daily practice of infection control, taking and using information from medical histories to guide our actions, taking and interpreting radiographs, administering injections, suturing wounds, managing infections, prescribing medications,  and making diagnoses on the basis of clinical signs and symptoms,” says E. Dianne Rekow, DDS, PhD, professor and chair of the   Department of Biological Science, Medicine and Surgery at the New York University College of Dentistry.

According to Rekow, dentists are well-schooled in managing patients who are stressed and fearful. She reports that for every person affected by a bioterrorist attack, “between 10 and 100 unaffected people will demand treatment.” Unless all health care workers, including orthodontists, are called on to assist in the response and recovery, she explains, medical responders could be quickly overwhelmed.

Rekow adds that she would like to see dentists “work toward modifying state (dental) practice acts to permit an expanded scope in mass-casually situations.”