Dental forensic identification
Image Source: Google Image

Dental forensic identification

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There are several fatal situations where a face disfigured may be complicating their identification: violent crimes, traffic accidents, industrial accidents, fires, bodies found in water, natural disasters, etc. This identification must have scientific validity and reliability, which given the deterioration in the above situations, it makes recourse to forensic dentistry.

In addition, is that the teeth, while making a unique characteristic of each individual and different from others, are much more resistant to changes or alterations than other parts or tissues in the body, even at high temperatures or when the body has entered phase decomposition.

Dental forensic identification
Image Source: Google Image

The key dental identification is the comparison between the records of the alleged person (ante-mortem information, AM), including notes, x – rays, etc., with the body (post-mortem information, PM). Therefore, the more dental treatments and the more complex received the person, the easier identification. In the case of AM radiographs be available, it is recommended radiographs PM replicating the same angle for better comparison.

After completing the PM records, you can make the comparison with AM. It should perform a methodical and systematic comparison, examining each tooth and surrounding structures. They can play a key role numerous factors, which are one of the leading dental restorations: metallic or non-metallic implants, fixed prosthesis, partial or complete dentures, etc.

However, in individuals with few restorations can be vitally important to consider other factors such as those relating to the teeth, as the pathologies of the crown or root, missing teeth, malposition concerning periodontal tissues, as recessions, state of the periodontal ligament and anatomical characteristics as TMJ (temporomandibular joint), and pathologies of the salivary glands among others.

If there are discrepancies, they should be explainable by the advance of biological processes (caries, extractions, etc.); otherwise, the result of the process should be excluded.

After analyzing all data AM and PM, 4 scenarios are possible:

  • Positive identification: The AM and PM agree to detail enough, and there are no unexplained discrepancies.
  • Possible identification: AM and PM data are consistent, but the quality of the evidence AM or PM remains is not possible to make positive identification.
  • Insufficient evidence: The available information is insufficient to reach a conclusion
  • Exclusion: The data are clearly inconsistent.

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When it is not possible to have ante-mortem data, the performance of the forensic odontologist will be limited to carrying out the post-mortem dental profile, whose development can facilitate the location of ante-mortem data. This profile can include valuable information that can help determine which sector of the population could belong:

  • Age, with accuracy up to plus / minus 1.5 years.
  • Race, can distinguish three main groups.
  • Socioeconomic level. The presence or absence of dental treatments may be indicative of this level.
  • Dietary habits. For example, the presence of erosion can determine abuse acidic substances, such as drugs, or the existence of eating disorders, such as bulimia.

If you cannot identify with the above two methods, which are the most common, there are other techniques such as DNA sequencing present in the pulp chamber.

These methods of identification may be subject to errors that lead to misidentification or a false exclusion, as a result of the lack of standards, lack of competence of professionals or fraud. The more disclosure exists of correctly identified or excluded cases and, more importantly, cases with errors in both identification and exclusion, the higher learning in order to avoid these mistakes in future cases.

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