The Gateway Pundit writes:

Swedish dentist Bernt Herlitz revealed to authorities that after checking the molar teeth of hundreds of migrant children that 80% of the so-called children were actually adults.

Herlitz was quickly fired and now may lose his home.

It claims that he treated migrant children - 80% of which he suspected were actually adults.

A screen shot of the report has been appearing in right-wing Facebook pages.

Was Herlitz really fired for reporting his suspicions to the Swedish Migration Board or are there other reasons for him being fired?

  • 5
    I started to edit this, but I got confused. First, you haven't provided a notability source, so I want to add one. Here is the article. But it doesn't say he was fired due to political incorrectness. Is your question about whether he was fired, whether he was fired for the reason given (breaking patient confidentiality) or whether his claims about 80% adults are correct?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 12:50
  • 5
    The original source is this. That site and the author seem to be associated with the Sweden Democrats, a far-right party with roots in fascism. Given the source, I think it is fair to doubt all of this. Though "Local swedish dental hygienist is fired for breaking patient confidentiality" seems like a boring claim. The question regarding child migrants being adults is more interesting. We have two claims (80% and 70%) from unreliable sources (gateway pundit and daily express), which I think makes a good question.
    – tim
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 13:03
  • 3
    @Mariacheckprofile I didn't DV, but I could imagine that someone might DV because this basically helps spread far-right propaganda, and for a pretty boring question at that. I voted to re-open though, because it seems on-topic now, and because we already know the answer, so we might as well answer it here now to clear things up.
    – tim
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 8:02
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    I did some checking and most hits are on far right blogs et.c. but it appears that he is a dental hygienist (i.e. not a dentist) and he was suspended for breaking patient confidentiality. According to web.archive.org/web/20170829045226/https://www.svt.se/nyheter/… he had no authority to perform such tests.
    – liftarn
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 9:19
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    @Mariacheckprofile The person in question did a "body examination" ("kroppsundersökning" in Swedish) which according to Swedish law is entirely forbidden to do unless you have the authority to do so. And you can only do any such action when required; you certainly cannot do so willy-nilly on your own accord just because you want to try to prove some kind of point. If your professor think that it is OK that a person that violates the law and exceeds their authority, just because the result is in line with their opinion... well then I dare say that professor is in a slight minority.
    – user32299
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 15:12

2 Answers 2


The Gateway Pundit does seem to imply that Herlitz was fired because he "revealed" that migrants are fraudulently posing as children.

However, their translation of the original article makes it clear that this was not the reason he was fired. From the Gateway Pundit:

Bernt was dismissed after 10 years of service at Folktandvården. The employer said he broke patient confidentiality

The source is a far-right website associated with the fascist Sweden Democrats, so there is some doubt left about the facts (especially about the 80% figure "revealed" by a random dental hygienist, which seems to be unsupported).

As not even these sites are actually claiming that a dental hygienist was fired for "revealing" that migrants are fraudulently posing as children, it is fair to assume that it is not true.

  • 23
    Is the 'breaking patient confidentiality' purely a consequence of revealing that a high percentage of the patients were adults? If so, it's not unreasonable to say he was fired for revealing that info. If it was other info, then yeah, it's unrelated. Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 18:23
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    @kbelder I don't think it's at all reasonable to summarize it like that, as it's missing a detail that is crutial to understanding the story. "Swedish dental hygienist fired for breaking patient confidentiality" would not be a headline on a US-based website. The only reason that it is a headline is because the site is purposefully burrying that important part of the story so they can spin it as 'political correctness run amok, denist fired for speaking the truth about refugees'.
    – tim
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 20:06
  • 2
    But if anyone has better sources, I would welcome another answer. I find the question pretty boring, but did not want to leave it unanswered as it's spreading far-right propaganda if not properly corrected. Maybe OP will also ask a question about the 80%, because that is the more interesting question, and I have serious doubt about the number (not just because of the incredibly unreliable sources).
    – tim
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 20:08
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    @kbelder No, that is silly. That is like saying "What happened to your car?" and you say "I had a flat".... after it was smashed to bits against the front of a truck. Well it is true that the event did puncture a tire and it deflated. But the flat is not what the event was all about. Same here: the cause of action against the hygienist was not that he "revealed" some information, but that he illegally obtained that information and then passed that information on, also in an illegal manner.
    – user32299
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 7:36
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    It should also be noted that he had no qualifications for doing such checks, nor was it a part of his job. web.archive.org/web/20170829045226/https://www.svt.se/nyheter/…
    – liftarn
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 8:59

Part of the claim is that Herlitz was able to distinguish legal minors (i.e. under 18) from legal adults by examining their teeth.

Estimating age from the teeth has a long history. Here is a survey of a number of modern scoring techniques derived from linear regression studies of dental features that vary with age. All of these techniques give an estimate of age, but the error range (where given) can be over 5 years. In addition the features being scored can be influence by diet (e.g. wear on the surface of the teeth), nutrition, general health and genetics (aka "race"). When looking at someone who claims to be 17 and trying to determine if they are actually 18 or older these techniques are not useful unless the claimant is really at least 24.

  • I'm sure the dentist in questions knows that and took it into account when making his statements.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 12:16
  • 17
    He wasn't a dentist, he had no training in any of these techniques and I don't see any evidence that he took their error bars into account. Given the lack of medical ethics exhibited (see comments elsewhere on this page) it is perfectly plausible that he did not. Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 13:59
  • 2
    Worth noting that for people 17 and older, you can only use the high-error techniques based on tooth features, rather than the low-error techniques based on tooth development/presence.
    – Mark
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 23:31
  • @jwenting why are you sure he took this into account? And doctor-patient confidentiallity basically bars a health professional from revealing even that a person is a patient. Revealing age is a quite clear violation!
    – vidarlo
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 17:41
  • @vidarlo as far as I'm aware he never revealed names, only made a statement about the high percentage of supposedly underage migrant patients he was seeing whose dental work indicated they were definitely adults.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 4:56

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