What if your dentist retired tomorrow? Or worse yet, what if he died? Of course your first concern and prayer is for the family as they mourn the loss of their beloved family member. Your next reaction will most likely depend on your personality.
You will either allow the family and office time to grieve or you pick up the phone immediately to locate a new dentist office so your files can be forwarded and your next six month cleaning can be added to the calendar. Life goes on…or does it?
What if you are abducted or kidnapped before your dentist retires?
Heidi’s information is included with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) thanks to Suzanne’s Law which was enacted nearly ten years after Heidi’s kidnapping.
NCMEC continues to update Heidi’s records so her DNA, dental records and statistics are both accurate and current. Once this step is complete and then verified through the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department, her dentist, and the family…another search begins. All of this information will then be compared against the thousands of unidentified bodies across the United States.
BUT this can’t be done until ALL the information is entered and verified against the original dental record!
Wednesday afternoon I received an email from NCMEC requesting the location of Heidi’s dental records. A simple request right? NOT!!!
Our dentist has both retired and passed away since Heidi’s disappearance. While the rest of our family transferred to a different dentist, there was no reason to switch Heidi over because she is missing. A vital and important lesson has been learned in the past couple day, one that breaks my heart because I didn’t think of it almost ten years ago.
Multiple phone calls to my current dentist to see if by some odd chance he had Heidi’s records confirmed…he doesn’t. Where do I look next? Who do I ask? Thankfully my dentist’s staff was able to provide phone numbers to our previous dentist’s daughter who cleaned out his office and records after his death. I gave her a call, explained who I was and the reason for my call. She was glad to help but the news she had sent my stomach to my ankles.
As I listened to her answer I fought back the tears. She apologized. I thanked her for ruling out one potential place they could be. She did not have them and didn’t take them to anyone either, she thought her father did that when he retired. Long, emotional story short…any files her father had were sent to a “certified shredding agency” to be disposed of. If Heidi’s original dental records were still stored at our childhood dentist…they are gone…just like my beloved sister.
Why are dental records so important? Other than DNA, our teeth are the best identifiers for law enforcement and medical examiners to identify remains. My three things to be thankful for: 1) The Sheriff’s Department has a copy 2) Sheriff Todd and Inv. Pitcher have made the location of Heidi’s original dental records a priority, and 3) All our DNA testing is complete!!
If you click on the photograph of Heidi’s teeth you will be directed to NamUs; a search engine to match up missing persons with the multitude of missing persons across the country. Once verified…let the database search begin.
TOMORROW: As if missing dental records aren’t enough, I learn not all law enforcement is as compassionate as Sheriff Todd, Investigator Pitcher and the original team of investigators. Heidi’s disappearance is technically a “cold case” but Thursday was the first time I felt as if it was treated that way by one individual.
Lisa M Buske
P.O. Box 323