Using DNA Analysis to Identify Victims and Suspects: A Forensic Odontologist's Expert Perspective

Forensic dentistry is a highly specialized field that requires a meticulous eye for detail and the ability to work slowly and methodically without rushing. It involves the use of DNA analysis to identify victims or suspects, and can be done in a variety of ways. A forensic odontologist can extract DNA from the pulp chamber of a tooth to analyze it and identify the victim. Researchers can examine dental records to compare them to a cadaver or to match the mark of a bite with that of an attacker.

Another way to use teeth to identify people is through the amelogenin gene. This gene can be extracted from the pulp of a tooth and studied using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to determine the sex of the victim.Blood has been used accurately to assess the gender of living victims, but teeth and bones provide precise access to the DNA of deceased individuals. A study was conducted in India on 50 teeth that had been unviable for a period of 1 to 3 months, and the sex of the owner of the tooth was accurately identified in all 50 cases. The teeth were also subjected to extreme heat.Molars and premolars are preferred teeth for this method due to their larger pulp chambers.

In addition, the apical part of these teeth is preferred and is found to be the most reliable. In cases where teeth are not available due to tooth decay, premature loss, or larger restorations, the mandibular bone has been an excellent source for DNA analysis. The mandible is a removable, easily accessible bone that can also be used to identify a person's age and gender.Forensic odontologists typically work as regular dentists most of the time, performing forensic exams as needed at the request of local law enforcement or the medical examiner.