Forensic dentistry, also known as forensic odontology, is the application of dental science to the criminal justice system. It is used to identify unknown victims or perpetrators, and to present dental evidence in a court of law. This may include recognizing and reporting child and elder abuse, age assessment, and analyzing bite marks. The forensic artist uses antemortem photography of the dental profile to aid in facial reconstruction.
In more general terms, forensic dentistry refers to the proper handling and examination of dental tests, which are then presented in a court of law. While identifications have been made through dental recognition since the time of the Roman Empire, science had not been frequently applied to court cases in the United States before the 1950s. The knowledge of the forensic dentist requires covering several disciplines, since the dental records obtained can identify a person or provide the information needed by the authorities to establish the identification of the case. Keiser-Neilson defined forensic dentistry as “that branch of forensic dentistry that, for the sake of justice, deals with the proper management and examination of dental tests and with the proper evaluation and presentation of dental findings”.
While forensic dental testing can be useful in both criminal and civil law cases, it is not a conclusive form of evidence unless combined with sufficient other evidence. Forensic dentistry provides the identification process with knowledge of orofacial structures, their variation among people of different backgrounds and the implications of dental treatment. In 1984, the guidelines of the American Board of Forensic Dentistry (ABFO) sought to clarify this confusion by proclaiming the Universal Numbering System as the recommended method for dental cartography. Despite advances in DNA technology, forensic dentistry remains a fast and highly cost-effective way of confirming the identity of deceased people when teeth remain and records exist before death.
Age estimation is an important part of forensic dentistry because human dentition follows a reliable and predictable sequence of development.Forensic odontology and forensic dentistry are two terms that are often used interchangeably but have distinct meanings. Forensic odontology is a branch of forensic science that deals with identifying individuals from their teeth or bite marks. It is used to identify victims or perpetrators in criminal cases or to present evidence in court. On the other hand, forensic dentistry is a subspecialty of dentistry that focuses on identifying deceased persons through their dental records.
It also includes recognizing and reporting child and elder abuse, age assessment, analyzing bite marks, and facial reconstruction.The knowledge required by a forensic dentist covers several disciplines since they must be able to identify a person from their dental records or provide information needed by authorities to establish an identification in a case. Forensic dentists must also be familiar with orofacial structures, their variation among people from different backgrounds, and implications of dental treatment. The American Board of Forensic Dentistry (ABFO) has established guidelines for proper management and examination of dental tests as well as proper evaluation and presentation of findings.Forensic odontology and forensic dentistry are both important tools for criminal investigations as they can provide valuable evidence for identifying victims or perpetrators. While DNA technology has advanced significantly in recent years, forensic dentistry remains a fast and cost-effective way to confirm identities when teeth remain intact and records exist before death.