When a crime involves a victim being bitten by an assailant, forensic odontology can be used to help identify the perpetrator. This subspecialty of forensic dentistry focuses on comparing dental records with a bite mark left on the victim or at the scene of the crime, such as on food or chewing gum. Bite marks can also be found on the aggressor, left by the victim in an act of self-defense. To compare bite marks, dentists use transparent overlays to record the biting edges of the suspect's teeth and then compare them to the sample from the crime scene.
However, this science is not always exact due to irregularities in skin that can cause distortions in bite marks. Therefore, it is often used in conjunction with other research methods to ensure a more accurate conclusion. Forensic dentistry can also be used to identify human remains when other methods such as fingerprinting and visual recognition cannot be used. In addition to bite mark analysis, forensic dentists use advanced methods such as scanning electron microscopes and energy dispersion X-ray analysis (SEM-EDXA) to scan dentin and estimate age.
The mid-stage wear method (ASA) is another clinical way of measuring molar cusp wear and using average calculations for identification. Forensic dentistry is an essential part of criminal justice as it provides evidence from the oral and maxillofacial region that can be used in court. Forensic nurses, dentists, pathologists, and forensic pathologists must all be trained in this area of medicine and work together to preserve antimortem evidence. Forensic dentists usually work as regular dentists most of the time, performing forensic exams as needed at the request of local law enforcement or the medical examiner.Forensic odontology requires meticulous attention to detail and patience to complete a lengthy process step by step without haste.
It is an invaluable tool for helping to identify victims and suspects in criminal cases.