Forensic Odontology | What is Forensic Odontology? Need & Scope and Significance

This informative blog includes the information required to understand the "Forensic Odontology, it's key aspects and Federation Investigation Dentine.".

FORENSIC SCIENCEFORENSIC ODONTOLOGY

Shubham Kumar

1/29/20246 min read

In the cases of sexual assault, child abuse, mental trauma, and mass disasters, the only evidence which can be tempered is dentine evidence. Furthermore, the dentine evidence like bitemarks, tooth prints and tooth, holds potential grounds in determination of real culprit. Therefore, forensic odontology is one of the most significant branches of forensic science in legal investigation.

In this article we are going to gain valuable insights about the forensic odontology, its need and significance in legal investigations.

Definition of Forensic Odontology

Odontology is the branch of science which deals with the scientific examination and study of dentine related issues. Moreover, it indulges into examination of nomenclature, morphology, various developments, changes and complications in the dentine. The science of odontology finds its application in wide range of scientific principles, one of the most promising principles is Forensic science. The branch of forensic science which works in interest of examining the odonatological evidence during the crime scene investigation, is referred to as Forensic Odontology.

Forensic odontology refers to the branch of forensic science which uses the scientific principles of odontology, to applicate it in crime scene investigation, in order to collect, analyze, examine, evaluate and individualize the dentine evidence present on the crime scene or related to crime scene, in order to seek justice in administration of court.

This prominent branch, forensic odontology also known as forensic dentistry, holds potential to implement dental knowledge and techniques in legal investigations. It is specialized in identification of humans remains and providing expert testimony in the court proceedings. Though forensic odontology holds prominent grounds in establishing the link between suspect, victim and crime scene. However, only came practices if the crime involves any dentine evidence.

This branch finds its specification in meticulous analysis of dentine evidence to ascertain the collection of DNA and personal identification markers. Dentine evidence like tooth, broken tooth, mandibular jaw, maxillary jaw, bitemarks on skin, dental records, etc.

This discipline plays a pivotal role in investigations pertaining to dentine marks related cases, like assaults, child abuse, identification victim off mass disasters, etc. Forensic odontologists employ a diverse range of scientific techniques to identify and determine the valuable from the dentine evidence to facilitate the investigation.

Techniques to used by odontologists to determine the identity of and Individual by examining his dentine evidence.

Forensic odontologists are specialized in determining the identity of the individual by examination of his dentine. These two techniques are the Gustafson's Formula and Federation Internationale Dentine.

Gustafson's Formula (Click to Know More About It)

This formula allows one to estimate the age of a person by examining their dental characteristics such as tooth wear, attrition, and other dental changes that occur with aging. Moreover, this method has been an important tool in forensic science for determining the age of individuals based on their dental remains.

The Gustafson’s Formula focuses on 6 landscapes while examining the dental characteristics, so as to estimate the approx age of a person. These 6 landscapes are

  • An= Attrition

  • Sn= Secondary Dentine

  • Pn= Periodontitis

  • Cn= Cementum Deposition

  • Rn= Root Reabsorption

  • Tn= Transparency of Tooth

Gustafson’s Formula:

11.43 + 4.56 (T.S) ± (3.63)
Where T.S= An + Sn + Pn + Cn + Rn + Tn

Federation Internationale Dentine

The Federation Dentine Internationale or FDI World Dental Federation notation system is a commonly used system for the numbering and naming of teeth. Notably, this system uses a two number system for the location and naming of each tooth.

In 1966, Federation Dentine International (FDI) introduced a simple and accurate method to memorize and differentiate individual tooth in permanent and temporary (deciduous) dentine. Furthermore, this method one can specifically point out the particular tooth from either permanent or temporary (deciduous) dentine.

This method is meticulously used to detect the unique characteristics present within the dentine of subject. Moreover, provides valuable insights and sideline the unwanted suspects.

Need and Scope of Forensic Odontology

Forensic odontology works for the establishment of justice in the lifes of suffered ones, therefore, is in continuous evolutions. These continuous advancements led to marvelous contribution in the investigation of dentine related cases. These contributions have made us realize the need of forensic odontology. Moreover, setting benchmark of this branch to become enough capable to solve any crime involving dentine evidence.

Continuous Training and Research

The branch of forensic odontology conducts regular training sessions to make their investigators enough capable. Furthermore, the researchers are also organized to stay updated about the ever-evolving nature of human body. Moreover, the tools and techniques used for collection, analysis, and identifications are always on the verge of evolutions.

Though forensic odontologists uses FDI 1966, and Gustafsons's Formula to determine the age of an individual by tooth. However, always in search of getting more and more accurate techniques, and this research make this branch a most capable among all other branches of forensic science.

Collaboration with Other Forensic Disciplines

The work of forensic odontologists is to examine and analyze the dentine evidence, potentially finding the DNA traces. Though, forensic odontologists look for individual characteristics in their dentine and DNA traces. However, retrieving of DNA traces are regarded as major victory.

After retrieving DNA traces, it is compared by toxicological, entomological, pharmacologic and medicinal department of Forensic science. It establishes as fruitful collaboration between other departments of medical science, to seek justice in administration of court.

Ethical and Professional Guidelines

Forensic odontologists adhere to strict ethical and professional guidelines, ensuring the accuracy, objectivity, and reliability of their analyses. They maintain meticulous records of their findings and methodologies to ensure transparency in their work. Forensic odontologists are always updated with emerging trends and always search of precision while investigation. Furthermore, their each and every decision impacts on the social and ethical grounds of victim, therefore, they always look for accuracy.

Criminal Investigations Support

The dentine evidence is usually found in cases like sexual assault, child abuse, mental trauma, and mass disasters. The other evidence like physical and biological evidence, are subjected to get tempered easily. Though dentine evidence is also a type of biological evidence, however, can be tempered that easily. The dentine evidence holds multiple insights which came up upon investigation, uncovering the telltale from the uncovered truth. Therefore, this branch is very crucial in cases like sexual assault, child abuse, mental trauma, and mass disasters.

International Human Rights Investigations

Forensic odontologists contribute to international efforts involving human rights abuses, war crimes, and genocide. By analyzing dental remains found in mass graves, they assist in identifying victims and providing evidence for legal proceedings.

Significance of Forensic Odontology

Forensic odontology holds prominent grounds in legal investigations of crimes which involves the dentine evidence. The dentine evidence is usually found in cases like sexual assault, child abuse, mental trauma, and mass disasters. Significance of forensic odontology as follows-

Antemortem and Postmortem Records Comparison: In cases where dental records of a missing person are available, forensic odontologists compare these antemortem (before death) dental records with postmortem (after death) dental features of unidentified remains. This meticulous comparison involves analyzing dental restorations, missing teeth, unique dental characteristics, and alignment to establish a positive identification.

Mass Disaster Victim Identification: Forensic odontologists play a crucial role in identifying victims of mass disasters, such as plane crashes, natural disasters, or terrorist attacks. By examining dental remains, they help provide closure to families and contribute to disaster response efforts.

Exclusion of Suspects: Apart from positively identifying suspects through bite mark analysis, forensic odontologists can also exclude individuals who are wrongly accused by demonstrating that their dental features do not match the bite mark pattern.

Reconstruction of Facial Features: In cases where only partial skeletal remains are available, forensic odontologists can aid in facial reconstruction by analyzing dental records and using dental characteristics to help forensic artists create accurate facial depictions.

That all was just the overview of the forensic odontology, it contain more interesting provisions which you should read. Search though this blog to find more.

Reference

  • "Forensic DNA Typing" by John M. Butler

  • "The Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation" by Ngaire E. Genge

  • "Forensic Science: A Very Short Introduction" by Jim Fraser

  • "Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation" by Ross M. Gardner