Dental Forensics- When forensics meets dentistry

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January 5, 2021

Well, you must be aware of forensic sciences, but did you know that even dentists can solve crime puzzles by using their dental expertise? Yes ! Dentists with such expertise are Forensic Dental Experts or Forensic Odontologists. Fancy isn’t it? But not yet. These dentists dedicate their life to research and investigations.

Lets go back to the history of dental forensics

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Dental forensics is not a new concept but rather has helped to solve many cases in the past . Its just the term we use these days. The history of forensic dental identification in India goes back to 1193 AD where Maharaja of Kannauj, Jai Chandra Rathore was identified after a battle from his false teeth. Later at the end of the 19th century, forensic dentistry evolved with increasing criminal cases. And today we stand at a point to where dental forensics has become a profession. One can only imagine the increase in the number of criminal cases since then.

How does dental forensics help?

Forensic dentistry is a specialized and emerging branch, particularly in this era. It has become a need of our society and it is now an integral part of forensic medicine also. Dental forensics have over the years, helped crack open many dead-end cases and brought criminals to justice. The main aim of forensic dentistry is to help investigate the unknown bodies/victims. Dentists with their forensic knowledge and expertise help to identify victims and criminals in rape cases with burned bodies or air accidents where the other body parts get completely destroyed and only teeth remain.

Dentists also help in solving legal matters such as in cases of child labor, child marriages by evaluating the age of the victim.

How are teeth important in forensics?

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Studies show teeth are better sources of DNA than skeletal bones. This is because of the enamel which is the outermost white layer of our teeth is the hardest structure in the human body protecting the inner layers of the teeth that are dentine and pulp. These dental hard structures are resistant to decay, fire and natural calamities and usually are the only remains left behind. Other body parts usually are destroyed earlier than our jawbones and teeth.

That’s where the forensics comes into the picture. Forensic dental experts can identify the body of the victim based on his/her previous dental records such as dental x-rays, casts, any crowns or bridges, or dental jewelry. Other special expertise includes an assessment of lip print, bite-mark, tongue print, palatal prints, dental DNA, blood group etc.

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1 Comment

  1. Manali Divekar

    How old the previous records should be to identify the the body of the victims?

    Reply

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Dr. Nikita Sahasrabudhe is a dental surgeon practicing since 2018. She believes in a conservative approach towards dentistry. Her special interests include cosmetic dentistry and prosthetics. She is also a forensic odontologist and contributes to various criminal investigations by using her dental expertise. Apart from this, she is a believer in health over wealth, which she manages by going to the gym, going yoga and traveling.
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