This article is submitted on November 26, 2008, published by biologyonline.com on January 31, 2009. (Contact the submitter)
Forensic Odontology, also known as Forensic Dentistry or Bite Mark Evidence Expertise, is the application of dental knowledge to the understanding of laws. Some of the work a Forensic Odontology is involved in is: identification of bite marks on the victims of attack, comparisons of bite marks with the teeth of a suspect and presentation of this evidence in court as an expert witness, identification of bite marks in other substances such as wood, leather and foodstuffs, identification of unknown bodies through dental records, and to estimate the age of skeletal remains. All of which is uncovered at a crime scene. You may be asking yourself how this can be useful to identify someone and put them at the scene of the crime. With the ability to survive fires that destroy evidence, teeth are an excellent source of identification. As well as the fact they are hard wearing and durable.
Just like a figure print, no two set of teethes are alike. The amount of missing teeth, crowns, bridges, fillings, caps, root canals and various other treatments during a patient’s routine check-up are what makes teeth unique and not like any others. While examining the DNA left at a scene, Forensic Odontologists exam the each and every routine that has been done and try to match them up with dental records. It becomes harder on the Odontologist if a good dental record is not kept on a person or parts are missing or severely damaged. When there are no dental records present the ability to make decisions about the victim’s identity is very restricted, but other guidelines are useful. Some of these guidelines include the tooth roots becoming more transparent in older people and the stage of development of a child’s teeth can determine their age. The teeth’s pattern of wear in adult’s show the person’s age, diet and the materials/dentistry techniques used during dental treatment, which can point out the country in which treatment was received.