Forensic Dentistry is one of the most innovative and interesting fields in forensics. Forensic Dentistry or rather, Forensic Odontology refers to proper handling, examination and analysis of dental evidence, which is then presented as testimonials in law court. A forensic dentist carefully evaluates the teeth and dental records of the victim to find out the cause of death, thus helping in criminal and legal investigation of accidents and crimes. The evidence derived from teeth helps in identifying the age as well as the individual to whom the teeth belongs. The evidence is collected mainly using dental records including radiographs, ante-mortem and post-mortem photographs, DNA and bite marks left on either the victim, the perpetrator, or an object found at the scene of crime. Forensic dentists are involved in six main areas of practice:
- Identifying human remains
- Identifying mass fatalities i.e. in case of natural disasters or fires
- Making assessments from injuries caused by bite mark injuries
- Making assessments in cases of child or spousal abuse
- Investigation of civil cases that involve malpractices
- Estimation of age
Forensic Odontology basically works on the principle that the dental imprint of each individual is entirely different from the other. It is possible to execute dental identification even under the harshest circumstances as teeth are highly resistant to the processes of destruction and decomposition. Interestingly, even gapped chipped, twisted, tilted or closely spaced teeth, teeth with fillings etc can all be used to identify the deceased person to whom the teeth belongs. In case, a question arises regarding the identity of the deceased, a specialist will be consulted and he will compare the person’s most recent dental records to the teeth of the corpse. On the contrary, if dental records are not available, the Forensic Odontologist will create a profile of the deceased based on his/her teeth. The profile will provide an insight in to the approximate age, gender, socio-economic status, and race of the dead person.