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NCJ Number: 200455 Find in a Library
Title: Establishing Personal Identification Based on Specific Patterns of Missing, Filled, and Unrestored Teeth
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:48  Issue:3  Dated:May 2003  Pages:487-496
Author(s): Bradley J. Adams Ph.D.
Date Published: May 2003
Page Count: 10
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The primary goal of this research was to determine the overall utility of nonradiographic dental records for the identification of unknown deceased individuals.
Abstract: Two modern datasets were used in this research, both of which were originally compiled as part of large-scale dental health studies. The first sample consisted of a large number of adults from the U.S. civilian population. This dataset was compiled as part of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). This was a multifaceted health examination survey conducted between 1988 and 1994 in the United States to collect data on the civilian, noninstitutionalized population. The second dataset is composed of a modern sample of 19,422 U.S. military personnel. The data were originally collected in 1994 and 2000 as part of two phases of the Tri-Service Comprehensive Oral Health Survey. In order to accurately assess the significance of an antemortem/postmortem dental match, empirical comparison to a large, representative dataset provides the best method available. This technique is not dependent on a minimum number of characteristics, since the strength of a match to a specific dental pattern can be assessed based on a comparison with a reference dataset. Relatively rare patterns in the population will be recognized as such, and this can be quantified with an objective value derived from the data. Furthermore, all dental characteristics should be considered, including unrestored teeth, when assessing an individual's overall dental pattern. The most straightforward way to present frequency information for a specific dental pattern is to count the number of times the pattern occurs in the reference data. For very large sample sizes, the counting method should provide a reasonable estimate of the expected population frequency. Based on this analysis of two large datasets of dental records, individual dental patterns were found to be generally unique, or at least very rare. Through this type of empirical comparison, it is possible to establish a strong quantifiable association with a missing individual. The results of this research show that a definitive number of points of concordance do not need to be established in dental identification cases. Each case must be assessed individually. The critical factor is to remove subjective judgment from dental comparisons. This research led to the proposing of a new method of empirical comparison that allows forensic odontologists to derive objective frequency information regarding the occurrence of specific dental patterns in the general population. The method is similar to that used for mtDNA casework. A computer program (OdontoSearch) has been developed to make the technique accessible. The research concluded that even a small number of common dental characteristics may produce a very rare dental pattern, a finding that may be counterintuitive to many forensic odontologists. 9 tables and 22 references
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Corpses; Death investigations; Dental analysis; Forensic sciences; Investigative techniques; Victim identification
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