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Forensic Odontology And Its Use Prior To And After The Development Of Dna Testing

835 words - 4 pages

Upon gaining licensure, dentists often work in offices with other dental professionals, caring for patients both prophylactically and restoratively. Less often are dentists seen working with medical examiners and other professionals in an investigative team, studying the anatomy and disease of teeth for human identification purposes, which is often post-mortem. These dentists are referred to as forensic odontologists. More specifically, forensic odontologists may work to identify the owner of bite marks on human skin or to determine the identity of human remains.
Dental analyses have been accepted in the courtroom as evidence albeit reluctantly, due to its inaccuracy and having led to ...view middle of the document...

That night, Parkman went missing. Authorities searched the university for his body or any unaccounted-for remains in the dissection laboratories. Webster dissuaded the police from searching his laboratory, which aroused a janitor’s suspicion. This, paired with other unusual circumstances, led the janitor to break into Webster’s lab through the room’s chimney, where he discovered burned human remains—including part of a mandible. Upon a thorough search of the lab, Parkman’s dentures were found. During the trial, proof that the remains were that of Parkman’s was necessary. Attendees of the trial included Dr. Keep, Parkman’s dentist of nearly 25 years. Keep recognized the dentures as those that he created for Parkman four years prior. Despite defense rebuttal that anyone could have made the denture, other dentists agreed that, after spending a large amount of time creating an appliance, a dentist can recognize his own work. [[CITE]]
Prior to the development of DNA, use of bite mark analyses were accepted in court and seen as highly reliable. When analyzing a bite mark, it is important to consider certain factors: a time lapse between the time of bite and analysis may cause deterioration and reduce ability of analysis; the amount of pressure applied during the bite, which is made apparent by bite marks ranging from bruised skin to lacerations involving deeper layers of skin; skin is very soft and may not leave a perfect impression, and any manipulation of the tissue after the mark is made may lead to warping, which may affect the...

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