Forensic Odontology AbstractForensic Odontology is widely used in criminal investigation particularly in identification of remains of unknown or deceased individuals as well as identifying assailants of victims of crimes through bite mark analysis. Several procedures must be accomplished by a forensic odontologist to carry out a dental examination of the remains of an unknown person during post mortem examination. Results will be compared to the ante mortem dental data of the individual under investigation. Photography, radiography, jaw resection and dental impressions are necessary procedures that must be undertaken by a forensic odontologist to accurately present an objective dental post mortem examination report to investigators.
Photography, for example, has evolved in forensic odontology. Digital photography has been commonly used in recent times over traditional film photography. Such shift in photographic preference delves on the issue of accuracy, cost efficiency and portability. Forensic OdontologyIntroductionForensic odontology forms part of the branches of forensic medicine which is being used to assist in the provision of justice in criminal investigation. It specifically appropriately examines, handle and present dental evidence in court of justice. A forensic odontologist is the appropriate person that carries out the role of forensic odontology in criminal investigation.
Table 1 shows the specific roles of a forensic odontologist in crime investigation as outlined by the British Association of Forensic Odontology (Pretty, n.d. ) which is carried out usually in close coordination with forensic pathologist and forensic anthropologist. Table 1Role of Forensic Odontologist in Crime InvestigationIdentify unidentified remains of human through the use of dental records. Assist situations of mass disaster such as terrorist attack, fire, etc. Analyse bite marks on victims of attack. Identify bite marks found in other materials such as wood, leather and food that will be useful in crime investigation. Analyse marks of weapons using the guidelines of analysing bite marks. Present evidences of bite and weapon marks in court. Establish an image of way of life and dietary habits in a site for archaeology.
The above information showed the importance of the role of forensic odontologists to the establishment of justice in criminal cases by creating a picture of the persons involved in criminal situation thereby identifying either the victim or the attacker.
Either way of identification will greatly shed light on who are involved in criminal acts helping criminal investigators establish the commission of a crime and who are involved in it. Consequently, the court of law will be able to analyse criminal cases and arrive at an objective decision using the evidence established by forensic odontologists. Identification of unidentified remains and analysis of bite marks are the crucial roles of forensic odontology in criminal investigation. It sums up the various roles of forensic odontology outlined in Table 1. The discussion of this essay will focus on these two crucial roles of forensic odontology in criminal investigation.
However, there is a need to discuss first why odontology is significant in forensic medicine or in the provision of justice in the court of law to give a logical background on why the roles of forensic odontology in identifying unidentified remains and analysing bite marks is significant in criminal investigation. Significance of Odontology in Criminal InvestigationOdontology is the science that studies the composition of teeth. It is currently used intensively in both civil and criminal investigation particularly in identifying victims and committer of crimes.
The ability of the teeth to survive even in disastrous circumstances (Bowers, 2004, p. 1) makes forensic odontology an important branch in forensic medicine and criminal investigation. There are characteristics present in the shape of teeth, its appearances, its fragments, its restorations, the skull and the jawbone that is unique only to one person (p. 1); hence making it an important tool for identification of missing person and unidentified remains. Even twins have different dental structures as found out during identification of victims of Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 26, 2004 (Rai & Anand, 2007).
Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid or DNA present in the interior of teeth and saliva is an important contribution of forensic odontology to identification of missing or unknown persons (p. 1).