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We continue from where we left off in the last blog – Bite Marks…human bite marks that is, can play an important role in helping to identify the guilty party in certain situations i.e. domestic disputes and homicide.
This is a very important concept. Picture this scenario:
Victim: Mr. Smith is found deceased. Forensic evidence shows bruising and bite marks. Suspect: Mrs. Smith (spouse).
In order to confirm that Mrs. Smith is the guilty party, her dental impressions are taken and study models are made. If these study models match the bite marks on Mr. Smith, then it is likely she is guilty. The dental impressions can provide a positive and concrete identification.
The dentist needs to be aware of child, elderly or spousal abuse especially if one presents with injuries to the head or body.
Dentists need to be suspicious of trauma to the face or mouth. More specifically: Fractured teeth, laceration of the labial or lingual frenum (soft tissue attachments in the mouth), missing or displaced teeth, fractures of the maxilla and mandible (upper and lower jaw) and bruised or scarred lips.
Bite marks may even be present on food which can be helpful for identification purposes.
Forensic dentists can also use trace salivary evidence that can be used for DNA profiling and matching. Again, it’s very important for the dentist to keep good records i.e. X rays, study models and thoroughly documented intra oral findings.
When to call a Forensic Dentist
Forensic Dentists are called in to:
1) Identify human remains if finger prints are not available and facial features are beyond recognition.
2) In situations of mass fatalities i.e. plane crashes, natural disasters and terrorist activities.
3) Bite mark identification in cases of abuse and assault, rape and homicide.
4) Age estimation of skeletal remains.
5) Testify in cases of dental malpractice.
6) Analyze dental injuries that arise as a result of physical neglect in children, adults and elderly.
7) Civic cases involving malpractice.
Series of Events in a Death Case involving a Forensic Dentist
1) Attends the autopsy.
2) Takes pictures, cranial measurements, dental impressions and x rays and uses digital imaging. These are compared to dental records of missing individuals. These are some examples of why dental records are of the utmost importance.
Most forensic dentists usually work as ‘regular/general’ dentists and practice the forensics when called in to do so. For this reason, the forensic dentist can be seen as being on-call…they can be called at any time.
The process of identification can be quite detailed. This may involve the use of computers and microscopes. Conclusions made by the forensic dentist are based solely on physical and dental evidence.
Bite marks are valuable in helping to identify both the victim and perpetrator of a crime. They represent the true physical evidence that may be needed to solve a case…after all; it’s very difficult to dispute physical evidence.
Yours in excellent dental health!
Dr. Robert Axelrad, Brampton’s Gentle Dentist
Dental Questions or Concerns? Give Us a Call today @ 905.791.3867…you’ll be glad you did!
Based in Brampton, Ontario, Brampton Dentist Dr. Robert Axelrad has been practicing gentle and pain-free dentistry for over two decades. During this time, he has helped to improve the dental health of countless satisfied patients in Peel Region, Brampton and beyond! Feel free to call us today at (905) 791-3867 for any dental health question you may have, as we are always happy to hear from you.