Forensic Dentistry and Anthropology (2023)


Since physical anthropology focuses on biological variation and human evolution,forensic anthropologyuses the methods of description and analysis of human remains to establish an individual's identity in a medico-legal context. The “medico-legal” context refers not only to possible criminal cases, but also to missing persons cases, mass death incidents, humanitarian crises and the repatriation of human remains, such as missing persons. Physical anthropologists trained in biology and human (particularly skeletal) anatomy can assist in medico-legal investigations by determining sex and estimating race or ancestry, age, and height over a lifetime;54-56They may also contribute to facial reconstruction, DNA retrieval, and postmortem interval (or time since death, TSD) analysis and estimation, as well as determining “evidence of crime.”55

(Video) Role of Forensic Odontology & Dental Anthropology | Dr. Hemlata Pandey

Forensic Archeology and Anthropology

Forensic Archaeologyapplies archaeological methods to the search, discovery, documentation and mapping of human remains in a forensic context. Importantly, forensic archeology's role is to secure evidence and keep the [potential] crime scene intact. Like prehistoric artifacts and fossils, forensic remains are often found incidentally, often through construction or erosion, or, in the case of surface remains, by migrants and hunters.55, 57Forensic archeology differs from the practice of forensic anthropology, which attempts to create a biological profile (i.e., age, sex, race, and height) of an unidentified individual.

Archaeological and anthropological practices overlap in the field of taphonomics, although taphonomic analysis may involve specialists from different scientific fields, including pathology, entomology, and botany. Taphonomy can be described as "the natural and cultural events, processes, and agents that transform human remains from the time of death to the time of analysis".55, 58"[D]ecompositing remains are part of a complex ecosystem,"59and these changes include the internal processes of post-mortem decomposition; perimortem trauma and postmortem bodily harm; and environmental activities (including insects and rodents, soil and weather conditions).59, 60Taphonomic analysis can provide valuable clues as to species and time since death.

Anthropological analysis helps identify unknown human remains by creating a biological profile that allows family members, witnesses, or the general public to recognize and identify the individual, or to provide a specific (positive) identification of an individual by matching the dentofacial remains with dental records, add evidence of injury or antemortem surgery to medical records, or take a DNA sample and compare the results to a known individual. The dentition is particularly valuable for forensic identification, as recording patient and treatment history can provide appropriate evidence for a positive identification (see Forensic Dentistry section below).

Gender Determination: Skeletal elements, particularly the pelvis, skull, and long bones, can provide valuable evidence for sex (not sex) determination based on human sexual dimorphism (anatomical variation in shape and size based on biological sex). Morphological and metric differences between adult males and females can estimate sex with between 90% and 98% accuracy.61The pelvis is the most valuable diagnostic; The taller, narrower shape of the male pelvis contrasts visually with the lower, wider pelvis with a widened ilium and wide pelvic opening in women. Male skulls are typically "larger and more robust" than females (although the mandible, with its high plasticity, is unreliable as an indicator of gender).61Metric analysis of long bones, including the humerus, radius, ulna, and clavicle, can estimate sex with up to 97% accuracy.61

Estimate age of death: Age of death can be estimated from various postcranial skeletal elements. A subadult dentition is the most reliable indicator of age (see below), but adult age can be estimated using a combination of techniques to provide an age range when a dentition is not available. The stage of epiphyseal fusion of long bones is useful for estimating age in individuals under 28 years of age, although nutritional status, population, and sex can affect the timing of epiphyseal fusion.37, 62, 63The pelvis is almost as important in determining the age of an adult as it is in determining sex. Degenerative changes in the auricular surface and pubic symphysis throughout adulthood are among the most reliable indicators of age in the adult skeleton.37, 64, 65Other methods of estimating the general adult age range include the sternal end of the ribs,37, 56and closure of the cranial suture.37, 63

Assessment of race or parentage: Gross examination of a human skull without soft tissues can allow classification into three major human populations (or "races"); The shape and angle of the orbits, the shape of the nasal cavity, the extent of prognathism, and the relative width and length of the forehead and skullcap generally correspond to the breed.66, 67The curvature of the human femur has been shown to reliably distinguish races.66, 67

(Video) The basics of Forensic Odontology

Appreciate height in life: The femur is also important in estimating a person's size in life. Simple formulas can be applied to the length of the femur, as well as other long bones, to estimate height, although they vary with sex and race.66, 68, 69

The most accurate way to provide such forensic identification is a combination of methods and application of statistical analysis provided by software such as FORDISC.67, 70uses the standard measure of bones to estimate adult sex and ancestry, or CRANID, which estimates ancestry using a discriminant analysis of measurements from a skull.67, 71

Forensic Dentistry or Dentistry

Teeth are essential to both forensic anthropology and academic anthropology. In addition to being the most durable part of the human skeleton, teeth are also heavily genetically influenced, and specific developmental traits (such as spacing, wings) and dental treatment increase their importance in positively identifying an individual's remains. "The dental identification of a deceased is a primary task of forensic dentistry",72and forensic dentistry, or dentistry, uses anthropological techniques to identify human remains based on dentition and related orofacial structures. While it is the forensic odontologist's responsibility to analyze and describe the unidentified remains, the forensic odontologist relies on the practicing dentist to provide accurate and comprehensive dental records as evidence of a presumptive identification or to rule out preliminary matches.73,74

Even without access to dental records, a general description of as yet unidentified dental remains is possible. Forensic odontologists can estimate sex, age, and race or ancestry and provide a general description of the unidentified person while he was alive.

The first step in identifying human remains is to determine whether the remains are human or non-human. Several bones of mammals such as bears and pigs can be confused with human bones, particularly the phalanges. Human teeth are easily distinguishable from other animals, including living great apes.75Humans have small, relatively blunt canines and lack the canine-incisor diastema characteristic of apes. Human premolars and molars clearly exhibit low, rounded cusps representative of omnivores, in contrast to the high crests of herbivores and the sharp, conical cusps of carnivores.76As with parts of the appendix skeleton, bears and pigs share some similarities in the shape of the molars with humans, although bear and pig molars are significantly larger.63, 76

Estimation of age based on dentition.

(Video) Forensic odontology | Factors affecting dental identification | Role of forensic odontologists

Subadult age is easily estimated from the regular development and eruption sequence of deciduous and secondary teeth up to the point of eruption of the third molar. Eruptive sequence diagrams, such as the seminal one by Schour and Massler1941 chart inJADAand more recently theLondon Tooth Development Atlasand eruption are commonly used by academic and forensic anthropologists.34, 36

However, by the time adult dentition is fully developed, age estimation becomes much less reliable and it is more appropriate to classify ages in broad ranges (e.g., "under 45" or "over 50"). Methods for determining tooth age are discussed in ADA White Paper 1077, Human Age Assessment by Dental Analysis, which describes radiological, microscopic, and visual macroscopic examinations of tooth structures after adult dentition. The technical report identifies root translucency, secondary dentin deposition, periodontal attachment, cement apposition, attrition, and root resorption as criteria that can be used to estimate the age of adult teeth.77The ADA Technical Report 1077 was adopted by the American Board of Forensic Dentistry as standards and guidelines for determining the age of dentists and was included in the Organization Register of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science in November 2021 (see ADA News article).

Sex determination from the adult dentition.

Human deciduous teeth and permanent canines exhibit approximately 7% sexual dimorphism, although affected by ancestry, which exhibits similar dimorphism between black and white Americans.63, 78This difference in size between male and female teeth results in an accuracy of 75 to 80% when determining sex from dentition.63The pulp and dentin of teeth also provide a reservoir of DNA that makes it possible to determine sex even from fragmentary remains.79

Judgment of parentage or breed since teething.

As discussed above in the Anthropological Analyzes of Teeth section, various metric and non-metric characteristics can help assess geographic ancestry, although accurate results require analyzes of combinations of characteristics and statistical probabilities: no single tooth characteristic can population or "race" determine. of an individual, but "complexes" of traits help distinguish certain populations from others.75, 78, 80Shovel-shaped incisors are more common in Asian populations, particularly Native Americans, and the expression of the accessory cusps, particularly Carabelli's cusp, varies between populations; These features are most commonly used in forensic identification.63, 66, 67, 78, 80, 81In general, European Americans tend to exhibit such anterior dentition nonmetric dimorphism, while African Americans more commonly exhibit posterior dentition nonmetric variation.75African populations generally have larger molars, while European-American teeth are smaller and denser.63, 66In addition, DNA extracted from dental material can be analyzed for general clues to ancestry or physical characteristics, including eye, hair and skin color.82, 83

Other aspects of forensic dentistry: perimortem trauma and bite mark analysis

(Video) Forensic Odontology Q & A with Dr. Derek Draft

Assessment of perimortem trauma can be performed by a forensic anthropologist, but this task is usually performed by a licensed forensic pathologist, coroner, or coroner (although any of these could also be a forensic anthropologist). Forensic dentistry has traditionally been involved in the analysis of bite marks, which, rather than identifying a potential victim, can provide identifiable information about an offender who may have left an impression of the front teeth that can be compared to dental records. Although several studies have confirmed the accuracy of basing positive identification on the unique shape of the anterior teeth,84, 85its legal and scientific value has been questioned in recent decades.86-88

duties of the dentist

Successful positive identification requires not only the work of police officers and forensic anthropologists, but also the maintenance of extensive and detailed records by the practicing dentist. Various ADA guidelines (see ADA Dental Anthropology Guidelines below), standards and specifications (see below) encourage dentists, dental societies and others to assist with forensic examinations as permitted by applicable law and to follow procedures and standards , which are intended to facilitate the positive identification of human remains.89

ADA Technical Report #1088provides dental practitioners and others with guidance on methods and best practices for collecting and matching forensic dental data for positive identification based on comparative dental analysis.ANSI/ADA Specification #1058standardizes requirements for documentation of dental information to help forensic odontologists make an unambiguous match between a set or description of human remains and dental records. As defined in ADA/ANSI 1058, the antemortem forensic dental record consists of six components: family record, dental history, dental data, oral data, visual images, and radiographic records.89

The ADA Center for Professional Success provides additional guidance to support a forensic investigation inThe dentist's role in forensic identification, which states:

A dentist who receives a request for dental records as part of a forensic investigation must cooperate with authorities who will provide the dentist with a valid and properly served warrant, court order, subpoena or administrative order. State laws, and possibly HIPAA privacy regulations, determine the circumstances in which recordings may be released without a valid warrant or court order. Dentists may wish to consult their private attorney to deal with these situations.

Additional ADA resources for the dentist wishing to be prepared for a forensic examination includeAADA SCDI White Paper 1100-2021: Orthodontic/Craniofacial/Forensic Photographic View Codes, zCopy and/or transmit records of best practice guidelines.

(Video) How Does Forensic Anthropology Help Solve Crimes? - with Sue M. Black


What is forensic anthropology answers? ›

Forensic anthropology is a special sub-field of physical anthropology (the study of human remains) that involves applying skeletal analysis and techniques in archaeology to solving criminal cases.

What is the most commonly asked question of forensic anthropologists? ›

Questions the forensic anthropologists ask about the death event:
  • When did the death occur?
  • Did the individual die at the place of burial, or was the individual transported after death?
  • Was the grave disturbed, or was the person buried more than once?
  • What was the possible cause of death?

How does anthropology relate to dentistry? ›

Dental anthropology is a distinct subfield of physical anthropology, attempting to answer questions about the evolution and diversity of humans and our ancestors by analyzing variations in the morphology and dimensions of human teeth, as well as micro- and molecular analysis of dental components.

Do forensic anthropologists match dental records? ›

Investigators can examine dental records to match them to a corpse, or to match a bite mark to a perpetrator.

What are 3 things a forensic anthropologist does? ›

What a forensic anthropologist DOES do to aid in a case:
  • Assist law enforcement with the location and recovery of human remains at crime scenes.
  • Cleans the bones so that they may be examined.
  • Analyze skeletal remains to establish the biological profile of the individual.

What are the 3 different areas of forensic anthropology? ›

Forensic anthropology is divided into subfields such as forensic archeology, forensic osteology, and forensic taphonomy [2].

What are the big four things that forensic anthropologists determine? ›

The first step is what forensic anthropologists call “doing the big four”—identifying age, sex, race, and stature.

What are 4 things that can be determined by a forensic anthropologist? ›

As such, forensic anthropologists have used their skills in the analysis of victims of homicides, accidental deaths, natural deaths, and mass fatalities.

What are 5 attributes that a forensic anthropologist must possess? ›

Here are five examples of forensic anthropology skills:
  • Attention to detail. Even seemingly insignificant details of a crime scene can be important clues about what occurred there. ...
  • Analytical thinking. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Knowledge of science and biology.
Apr 14, 2022

What is the role of forensic odontology in anthropology? ›

Forensic odontologists and anthropologists play a major role in the identification of human deceased. It also provides various details such as age, sex, stature and race identification. Here, we review the role of forensic odontology and anthropology in the identification of human remains from the existing literature.

Why is dental anthropology important? ›

“With modern, non-destructive dental anthropological methods, we're contributing to an improved understanding of ancestral heritage, and helping the scientific community improve cultural sensitivity,” says Dr.

How can teeth be used in forensic anthropology? ›

The teeth of human remains can help an anthropologist estimate how old the remains are, the diet that the human ate, give an analysis of overall health, and even possibly tell them about the human's cultural rituals.

How accurate is forensic dental identification? ›

A 2001 study estimated the rate of false matches using the technique as being between 11.9 and 22%. Worse: forensic odontologists cannot reliably agree if a mark was left by human teeth or not. This pseudo-expertise can have grave consequences.

Does the FBI hire forensic anthropologists? ›

Forensic anthropologists employed by the FBI are considered professional staff and are granted access to the most advanced technologies and equipment available to work on the FBI's most challenging cases. Openings at the FBI's headquarters and field offices are frequently posted.

Is it possible to solve crimes with forensic dentistry? ›

Dental records can be matched with found remains to determine the individual's identity, even if nothing more is present than dental fillings. There is some controversy regarding bite mark analysis and its admissibility in court, but forensic dentistry remains a valuable resource for solving crime.

How is forensic anthropology used to solve crimes? ›

forensic anthropology, application of physical anthropology to legal cases, usually with a focus on the human skeleton. Forensic anthropology uses the techniques of physical anthropology to analyze skeletal, badly decomposed, or otherwise unidentified human remains to solve crimes.

What is an example of forensic anthropology? ›

As we learned, forensic anthropology is a field that uses skeletal analysis in order to help solve criminal cases. It has helped to figure out the manner of death of a young boy from Jamestown, the identity of bones belonging to the Romanov Family, victims of John Wayne Gacy, the Oklahoma City Bombing, and 9/11.

What is forensic anthropology easy? ›

Generally speaking forensic anthropology is the examination of human skeletal remains for law enforcement agencies to help with the recovery of human remains, determine the identity of unidentified human remains, interpret trauma, and estimate time since death.

What can teeth tell you about the deceased? ›

Teeth can help investigators to find out who a dead person is, how old the person was, if the person was male or female, what kind of daily habits and lifestyle a person had and how the person died. Thus, the examination of teeth plays a key role in crime scene investigations and can help solve crimes.

What are 2 major types of forensic evidence? ›

Once you have mastered the process of the scientific method you become very aware of the need for data or as it is called in the forensic world "evidence". There are two general types of evidence used in both science and law - Physical and Testimonial evidence.

What is one of the key elements of forensic anthropology? ›

One of the main tools forensic anthropologists use in the identification of remains is their knowledge of osteology and the differences that occur within the human skeleton. During an investigation, anthropologists are often tasked with helping to determinate an individual's sex, stature, age, and ancestry.

What are 3 types of forensic evidence? ›

Forensic evidence is scientific evidence, such as DNA, trace evidence, fingerprints, or ballistics reports, and can provide proof to establish a person's guilt or innocence.

What kinds of cases do forensic anthropologists solve? ›

What kinds of cases do forensic anthropologists resolve? Cases of missing, unidentified, and disappeared individuals.

What are the 7 steps in identifying analysis at a forensic case? ›

The Seven S'S of Crime-Scene Investigation
  1. Securing the Scene.
  2. Separating the Witnesses.
  3. Scanning the Scene.
  4. Seeing the Scene.
  5. Sketching the Scene.
  6. Searching for Evidence.
  7. Securing and Collecting Evidence.

How do forensic anthropologists help to read evidence in a crime scene? ›

Forensic anthropologists reconstruct past events to determine how human remains arrived at a crime scene or another location, how long they might have been there and what natural and other forces may have affected or come in contact with the remains. A&E True Crime spoke with Dr.

What do forensic anthropologists look for when identifying bodies? ›

Forensic anthropologists are tasked with examining human skeletal remains in a medicolegal context. Typically such work can include identifying the sex, age, ancestry, and stature of an unidentified set of remains.

How does a forensic anthropologist determine the size of the person? ›

The estimation of the dead person's height is based on the length of the long bones of the arms and legs. An instrument called an osteometric board is used for determining the measured stature, which can be slightly different than the forensic (self-reported) stature.

What are two duties of a forensic anthropologist? ›

A Forensic Anthropologist has many responsibilities, such as assisting law enforcement officers with finding the location of human remains at crime scenes. They also help clean and categorize bones when found to build a biological profile of the individual.

What is the primary task of a forensic anthropologist? ›

Although the primary task of forensic anthropologists is to establish the victim's identity, they are increasingly being called upon to provide expert opinion on the type and size of weapon(s) used and the number of blows sustained by victims of violent crime.

What must forensic anthropologists have before they can positively identify an individual? ›

Forensic anthropologists looking to identify human remains study traits of the skeleton and any orthopedic devices present. In order to obtain a positive scientific identification, evidence that is both sufficiently unique to the individual and comparable to available antemortem data from that individual must be found.

What is forensic anthropology quizlet? ›

forensic anthropology. The scientific study of human remains, usually with the express purpose of identifying the remains of the deceased or cause of death.

What is forensic science answer? ›

Forensic science, also known as criminalistics, is the application of science to criminal and civil laws, mainly—on the criminal side—during criminal investigation, as governed by the legal standards of admissible evidence and criminal procedure.

What is forensic anthropology and why is it important? ›

Generally speaking forensic anthropology is the examination of human skeletal remains for law enforcement agencies to help with the recovery of human remains, determine the identity of unidentified human remains, interpret trauma, and estimate time since death.

What do forensic anthropologists do quizlet? ›

The main focus of a Forensic Anthropologist is to process crime scenes, examine and process remains, develop a biological profile, compile appropriate documentation, and testify in the provincial and federal courts. pathology that focuses on determining the cause of death by examining a corpse.

What is the primary task of a forensic anthropology? ›

Although the primary task of forensic anthropologists is to establish the victim's identity, they are increasingly being called upon to provide expert opinion on the type and size of weapon(s) used and the number of blows sustained by victims of violent crime.


1. Identifying Victims Through Dental Records | The New Detectives
(The New Detectives)
2. Forensic Odontology
(Marlana Mucciarone)
3. Introduction to Forensic Science: Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Odontology
(Acia From Asia)
4. Forensic Dentistry – Introduction
(المقررات المفتوحة - Open Courses)
5. Bite marks | Forensic odontology | UGC NET Forensic science
(Forensic Science Hub)
6. IUP Anthropology OER - Dr. Allysha Winburn: Forensic Anthropology and Race
(IUP Anthropology)


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