What is Forensic Dentistry? | Sydney Dentist
What are the uses of Forensic Dentistry?
- Victim identification- the most common role of a forensic dentist is to identify the deceased individuals. This is most likely done on victims of different situations such as violent crimes, work place accidents, fires, motor vehicle accidents and those who have been deceased for some time prior to discovery. When such extent that identification by a family member isn't reliable, dental identifications play a key role in identifying the deceased individual.
- Age estimation- estimating the age of unknown bodies facilitates a traced search for ante mortem data or before death data by narrowing the age interval of the search. But this procedure isn’t only for the deceased or missing, even the living can request forensic age estimation. Age estimation can also be requested due to criminal investigations, immigration procedures and for civil purposes.
- Race determination- a forensic dentist can determine the ancestry of an individual based on his skull shape and form. Additional characteristics such as shovel-shaped incisors and multi-cusped premolars can also help determine the ancestry of an individual.
- Bite mark assessment- human bite marks have unique qualities due to its specific characteristics and teeth arrangement. That is why bite mark analysis is by far the most demanding and complicated part of forensic dentistry.
- Assessment of cases of child, spousal or elder abuse- forensic dentist can identify and interpret if there is an abuse by interpreting bite marks. Other types of abuse such as spousal, child or elder abuse can also be assessed using forensic dentistry.
- Civil cases involving malpractice- documenting findings also play a great role in forensic dentistry. A full detailed report is made to use as evidence in civil or criminal trials. Furthermore, forensic dentists can also testify in court regarding their dental findings, both in criminal cases such as murder or assault, and in civil cases such as dental malpractice.
Notable Forensic Dentistry Crime Cases
- In 1477, Charles the Bold’s body was identified on the basis of several missing anterior teeth.
- In 1962, during the Salem Witch trials, Rev. Burroughs was sentenced to hang for a murder after his bite marks were compared to matching marks found on the victim.
- In 1967, a 14 year old girl, Linda Peacock had the bite mark along with other evidence which led to the conviction of a young man.
- In 1975, Walter Marx was convicted of murdering a woman after his dental records and bite marks were compared to those found on the woman’s nose.
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