How Are Dental Records Used To Identify A Person? How Do Police Get Dental Records?

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How Are Dental Records Used To Identify A Person? How Do Police Get Dental Records?

How Are Dental Records Used To Identify A Person? How Do Police Get Dental Records?

Criminal investigation and law enforcement dramas are a huge part of the mainstream. Most of the time, these involve missing the persons or the murder investigations. Will this article discuss dental records used to identify a person? How do police get the dental records? 

What Does A Forensic Dentist Do? 

Under the law, inevitable deaths in Queensland must be reported to a Coroner. These will include the unnatural deaths, homicides, and cases where the cause of the death or identity of the deceased person are also unknown. The Corner then starts an investigation to find out what has happened. 

As a forensic, Brad Ross from Forensic and the scientific Services will assist in these investigations. We have interviewed him to find out what his role involves. What do forensic dentists do? How can their teeth identify people? Is it anything just like CSI? 

What Is A Forensic Dentist? 

Technically, Brad says that the specialty’s name is Forensic odontology, though most people much more easily recognize the term forensic dentist. We will assist in the identification of the bodies, including in Disaster Victim Identification, as well as in the assessment of the dental injuries, disease, and the bite marks,” Brad says. “We will look at the neck and head, focusing on the teeth and the jaws.” 

After studying dentistry, the dentist can also take a further specialty training in the forensic odontology, learning some new skills in the anatomy, pathology, and the relevant law, as well as the assessing dental records, analyzing the post-mortem scans, assisting in the autopsies, and recognizing the signs of trauma. 

Employed by Queensland Health and reporting to the Chief Forensic Pathologist, a small team of forensic odontologists works very closely with the forensic pathologists, police, and coroners, typically on a part-time basis. 

Forensic odontologists must also be registered dentists, with their primary employment as university professors, other dental specialists, or dentists in the armed forces or in the community clinics, who bring a breadth of knowledge and experience to forensic odontology. 

How Does Dental Identification Work? 

Brad does explain that if a friend or a relative cannot identify a deceased person, identification may have to rely on the fingerprints, DNA or Teeth. These “Primary Identifiers” typically have become necessary if the deceased person’s face can not be recognized easily, for example, due to many severe bums or injuries. 

However, these methods will depend on finding the records made during life, such as the X-rays or all other records. This may be much less confronting for the family and much more reliable than attempting the visual identifications. 

There are also some other benefits to dental identification. “Fingerprints were the gold standard which was in the 1950s,” says Brad, “But now the science has been improved very much. DNA is great scientifically, but it’s costly and can take several weeks. It is not like the CSI: police still do not match up people’s DNA in an instant in the lab.” 

Dental identification is also made by easily comparing a deceased person’s teeth and jaw with the missing person’s dental records, using the -ray or the computed tomography scans where possible. Comparing all the digital images of this sort will provide a potent tool for identification. As Brad says, a picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to the teeth. 

What Is Disaster Victim Identification? 

When a major incident or a natural disaster occurs that will result in multiple deaths, forensic odontologists like Brad might be called upon to help with identifying the deceased. This process is called the Disaster Victim Identification or the DVI. It will involve not only the forensic odontologists but also the police as well, pathologists, fingerprint experts, counselors, and many other specialists. 

For small disasters, Queensland has sufficient capability. However, in large disasters, it is very unusual for the jurisdictions to seek some help from overseas or interstate. Brad’s colleagues have been deeply involved in many DVI incidents in Queensland and elsewhere, following incidents as diverse as plane crashes, tsunamis, bushfires, and terrorism. 

Incidents which are requiring the DVI vary widely according to the circumstances. “An event which might be closed disaster, where a list of the names of the possible deceased can be given, or the open disaster, where there is no definitive list, and we may not initially know how many of victims are involved, said by Brad. 

While forensic odontologists do not even require such a large team, a much larger number of skilled workers are needed when a disaster strikes. Brad’s team runs the DVI training for the dentists each year, making sure that if it is needed, there are enough trained dentists who are ready with the forensic skills to assist. 

Why are Teeth A Good Source Of DNA? 

Not only are the teeth often the only good source of DNA available in the fragmented remains, but their unique location and composition will also provide added protection to DNA. Sitting in the jawbone, they are also insulated from much of the degradation that will happen to the bones. 

Bite Mark Analysis 

Bite mark analysis is a subspecialty of forensic odontology that only focuses on identifying the perpetrators by comparing the dental records to a bite mark left on the victim or at the scene- for example, in the food or chewing gum. Bite marks may also be found on perpetrators themselves, which are left by the victim in the act of self-defense. A prevalent method of comparing the bite marks is the use of transparent overlays. 

These record the biting edges of the suspect’s teeth, which can then be easily compared to the crime scene sample. Bite mark analysis is not always the exact science, as the skin itself tends to have irregularities that will distort the bite marks. However, this science is typically used in conjunction with other investigative methods to ensure a much more accurate conclusion. 

Final Words 

This article discusses how dental records are used to identify persons and how police get dental records. We recommend you give some time to your research to get the best results.