Forensic odontology is a branch of forensic science that focuses on the identification of individuals based on their dental records. It is a highly specialized field that requires a deep understanding of the structure and anatomy of teeth, as well as the ability to compare dental records to determine age, sex, and other characteristics. Ultraviolet lights are often used to differentiate between virgin teeth and restorations, while the size and shape of the mandibular branch and the mastoid process can be used to identify gender. The state of eruption of the teeth can be used to determine age, and is more accurate than age determined from the skeleton.
Forensic dentists examine the development, anatomy, and any restorative dental correction of teeth, such as fillings, to make a comparative identification of a person.Teeth are highly resistant to taphonomic and diagenetic changes, unlike bone, which is easily destroyed and easily absorbs materials from the surrounding matrix. This makes them an ideal source for forensic identification in incidents such as terrorist attacks, plane, train and road accidents, fires, mass killings, and natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes and floods. Forensic dentistry techniques also help identify potential victims by analyzing bite marks that may have been left by an aggressor.The primary utility of forensic odontology is the identification of human remains based on the individualistic characteristics present in the teeth of different individuals. While it is the responsibility of the forensic dentist to analyze and describe the unidentified remains, the forensic dentist relies on the practicing dentist to provide accurate and complete dental records as proof of suspected identification or to rule out tentative coincidences.Forensic odontology is an invaluable tool for law enforcement agencies in their efforts to identify victims in criminal cases.
It is also used in civil cases such as paternity disputes or inheritance claims. By understanding how forensic odontology works and its importance in identifying individuals, we can better appreciate its role in helping to solve crimes.