Forensic Dentistry as a Tool for Identification

Review Article

Austin J Forensic Sci Criminol. 2015; 2(5): 1043.

Forensic Dentistry as a Tool for Identification

Singal K*

JRF , Department of Genetics , MDU Rohtak ,Haryana, India

*Corresponding author: Kusum Singal, Junior Research Fellow (JRF), B.D.S ,MSc. (Forensic Science), Department of Genetics , MDU Rohtak, Haryana, India

Received: November 30, 2015; Accepted: December 28, 2015; Published: December 30, 2015


Forensic dentistry or forensic odontology is the proper handling, examination and evaluation of dental evidence, which will be then presented in the interest of justice. The evidence that may be derived from teeth is the age (in children) and identification of the person to whom the teeth belong.

Keywords: Forensic dentistry; Age estimation; Sex determination; Mass disaster; DNA typing


The dental enamel is the hardest tissue in the body, and would thus withstand peri and post-mortem damages, and so would dental materials adjoined to teeth. Being diverse and resistant to environmental challenges, teeth are considered excellent postmortem material for identification with enough concordant points to make a meaningful comparison [1]. There are three major areas of activity embracing current forensic odontology namely:

1. The examination and evaluation of injuries to teeth, jaws, and oral tissues resulting from various causes.

2. The examination of marks with a view to subsequent elimination or possible identification of a suspect as the perpetrator.

3. The examination of dental remains (whether fragmentary or complete, and including all types of dental restorations) from unknown persons or bodies with a view to the possible identification of the latter.

The diversity of dental characteristics is wide, making each dentition unique.

The main aspects of forensic dentistry include [2]

1. Dental identification

i) Identification of unknown

ii) Confirmation of identification

2. Age estimation of an individual from teeth

3. Sex determination

4. Role in mass disasters

5. Role in domestic violence, abuse and neglect

6. Identification from bite marks

7. Identification from lip prints

8. Blood group determination

9. Recent advances

i) DNA typing

ii) Computer assisted dental identification

iii) Digital analysis of bite marks

iv) Digital autopsy

The oral structure findings that contribute to identification are [3]

1. Age determination (gross, microscopic, radiologic and surface scanning)

2. Sex determination (dental and skeletal comparison)

3. Racial characteristics

4. Blood group determination

5. Other genetic findings

6. Occupational markings

7. Prosthetic markings

8. Individual habits

9. Tooth alignment (occlusion) and abnormalities

10. Jaw deformities (developmental and post-developmental)

11. Dental therapy (fillings, crowns, bridges and dentures)

12. Dental radiology

13. Microscopic examination

14. Holography(where individual tooth prints can be stored in a computer data files, later to be retrieved for identification purposes, as well as for other kinds of data treatment involving oral diagnosis).

Dental Identification

Dental tissue is often preserved indefinitely after death. Complete charting of dentition using FDI (Federation Dentaire International) system or any other nomenclature should be done. Type of dentition (either permanent or deciduous) and surfaces of teeth involved should be evaluated. Bitewing and periapical radiographs are routinely used. Dental impressions like silicones and alginate are used to record bite mark evidence and rug pattern. Teeth, periodontal tissues and normal anatomical features are assessed in comparative dental identification. Odontograms (symbolic pictorial description of dentition) form a basic outline to compare dental characteristics at the simplest level [4]. The forensic dentist produces the postmortem record by careful charting and written descriptions of the dental structures and radiographs. If the antemortem records are available at this time, postmortem radiographs should be taken to replicate the type and angle of these. Radiographs should be marked with a rubber dam punch to indicate antemortem and postmortem to prevent confusion-one hole for antemortem films and two holes for postmortem films. Once the postmortem record is complete, a comparison between the two records can be carried out. A methodical and systematic comparison is required, examining each tooth and surrounding structures in turn. While dental restorations figure significantly in the identification process, many other oral features are assessed, and these play an increasingly important role in those individuals with minimal restorations [5].

Citation: Singal K. Forensic Dentistry as a Tool for Identification. Austin J Forensic Sci Criminol. 2015; 2(5): 1043. ISSN : 2380-0801