Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teeth of cadavers reveal their identity

Date:
June 29, 2010
Source:
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Summary:
Researchers in Spain have shown that a person's dental patterns can be used as proof of their identity with the same degree of reliability as DNA testing, the method that forensic police use to reveal the identity of dead bodies. The researchers came to their conclusion after analyzing the dental patterns of more than 3,000 people.

No two people have the same teeth.
Credit: Stella Martνn de las Heras et al.

Researchers from the University of Granada have shown that a person's dental patterns can be used as proof of their identity with the same degree of reliability as DNA testing, the method that forensic police use to reveal the identity of dead bodies. The researchers came to their conclusion after analyzing the dental patterns of more than 3,000 people.

Related Articles


"There is sufficient dental diversity between people to enable a scientifically-based human identification method to be developed for forensic purposes," says Stella Martνn de las Heras, lead author of the study and a professor of Legal and Forensic Medicine at the University of Granada (UGR).

In order to reach this conclusion, the researcher and her team carried out a statistical analysis of 3,166 full and partial sets of teeth taken from the databases in the three most recent National Surveys of Oral Health (1993, 2000 and 2005).

Using these data, the team estimated "conditioned dental diversity," eliminating cases where people had all their teeth "present and healthy" or people who were "edentulous" (without a single tooth in their mouth), as these were of no use for identification purposes.

The results of the study, published in the journal Forensic Science International, show variability values of 0.999 (on a scale of 0 to 1), "which is comparable to the rates for a scientifically-based identification method such as mitochondrial DNA," stresses Martνn de las Heras.

However, the scientist does acknowledge the limitations of using dental patterns: "Dental characteristics have low stability within the population compared with mitochondrial DNA sequences, which are only affected by mutations and heteroplasmy (different types within the same mitochondria, cell or individual)."

The dental patterns of a population depend on oral health status and, therefore, on age (decay is a cumulative disease) and the therapeutic dental approach of the time. At present, we are in a restorative phase (where teeth are restored) as opposed to extractive (when teeth are removed), as they were previously.

"But by analysing the data bases of dental patterns in Spanish populations according to different age groups and birth cohorts, we found test results with high homogeneity for all the databases, which shows the value of this system for identifying people, and its forensic utility," says the researcher.

Comparing teeth before and after death

In this procedure, an oral autopsy makes it possible to obtain a cadaver's dental data. To do this, forensic scientists use a range of techniques depending upon the body's state of preservation. In some cases they have to remove the maxillary bones in order to find details that cannot be identified in any other way.

The post mortem dental pattern is compared with the dental data of the person in life, information that is provided by dentists, although it can also come from doctors and family members. Various IT programmes are used to help in comparison and identification.

Aside from this finding, the team has developed a piece of software to identify bite marks. This tool makes it possible to superimpose, precisely and in 3D, the mark left by a bite over the tooth arrangement of a possible suspect.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stella Martin-de-las-Heras, Aurora Valenzuela, Juan de Dios Luna, Manuel Bravo. The utility of dental patterns in forensic dentistry. Forensic Science International, 2010; 195 (1-3): 166.e1 DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.11.004

Cite This Page:

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Teeth of cadavers reveal their identity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100629094145.htm>.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. (2010, June 29). Teeth of cadavers reveal their identity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100629094145.htm
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Teeth of cadavers reveal their identity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100629094145.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins