Just What Is Forensic Dentistry? How Does It Work?

Forensic dentistry is also known as forensic odontology. It’s the application of existing dental knowledge towards civil and criminal laws which law enforcement agencies and the larger criminal justice system apply and maintain. A forensic dentist might be involved in providing investigative assistance to departments or agencies charged with the recovery and identification of human remains, on top of the responsibility of simply identifying fragmented or whole bodies. A forensic dentist might even be requested to provide assistance in the determination of the age, occupation, prior dental history, race, and socioeconomic status of an unidentified set of human remains.

Forensic dentistry involves the proper handling, evaluation, and examination of potential dental evidence, often then presented in the larger interests of justice. Evidence that can sometimes be derived from teeth might include the age of a child or even the identification of a specific person as compared to dental records.

This process might involve dental records like radiographs, including DNA, and the comparison of ante-mortem and post-mortem photographs from before and after death. The phrase ‘forensic odontology‘ is itself derived from the language of Latin, roughly meaning a forum in which legal matters see discussion.

Bite marks are another kind of evidence studied and used by forensic dentists. Bite marks are sometimes left on the victim by an attacker or even the perpetrator themselves in the case of a defensive wound from a victim. Bite marks are also sometimes found on objects found at crime scenes. Bite marks are sometimes crucial evidence in cases of abused children.

In general, the duties and responsibilities of forensic dentists fall into six general categories.

  1. The first is the identification of discovered human remains.
  2. The second and closely related one is the identification of mass fatalities.
  3. The third is the assessment of potential or existing bite mark injuries.
  4. The fourth is assessing cases of abuse, be it a child, elder, or spousal.
  5. The fifth category involves civil cases of malpractice.
  6. The final category is estimating ages of deceased remains.

Forensic dentists make use of both biological and physical dental evidence in solving these numerous medicolegal problems that result from various causes, including crime, natural disasters, and terrorist activity

Forensic dentists often see employment at state or local levels by medical examiners or coroners. Postmortem dental examinations might include the use of digital imaging methodology, X-ray documentation, and the charting of cranial and dental features. Forensic professionals record, document, and disseminate their findings through very detailed reports.

Forensic dentistry has played a crucial role in the identification of victims of many major catastrophes, including the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks or the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. They were also instrumental following the crashes of American Airlines Flight 587 and Pan Am Flight 103.

Bite mark analysis plays a serious role in violent crimes such as rape, assault, and homicides. Forensic dentists will study bite marks but also possibly collect trace salivary evidence used in the matching and profiling of DNA. A forensic dentist might also conduct an injury analysis of the dental areas to establish cases of physical neglect.

When not at a crime scene or autopsy room of the local coroner or medical examiner, a forensic dentist might get asked to provide expert-level testimony in a criminal hearing.

Forensic odontology is reliant on scientific methods that might relate to teeth and jaw, and the field is used in many cases where identification isn’t possible through a person’s wallet or fingerprints, given decomposition of remains. A study of a person’s dental anatomy might reveal indicating clues through interpretation of dental materials, developmental abnormalities, pathology, and radiographs. Given that teeth are among the strongest elements within a human body, odontology is sometimes possible to be performed even after most of a body is destroyed, even in cases of arson or cremation.

Forensic dentists must undergo the training to be an actual dentist, but also must go through training specific to the field of forensic dentistry, which also includes continuing education and sessions in order to maintain their active status. In many areas, they must conduct a minimum number of identification cases with a successful rate. The median salary for a forensic dentist is approximately $150,000. Starting salaries across the country range from $80,000 to $125,000, but once in the field, the top 10 percent earn closer to $200,000.

Many forensic odontologists actually work as typical dentists much of the time, picking up forensic examinations on an as-needed basis when medical examiners or law enforcement request their services.

In the event of a death, a forensic odontologist might personally visit a disaster or crime scene. In other cases, X-rays and measurements are taken during an autopsy process.

Given that such disasters and crimes might happen at any given time, forensic dentists that are ‘on call’ have to be prepared to put in long hours whether it’s day or night, even on holidays and weekends.

This highly detailed work demands considerable fine motor skills, requiring exemplary accuracy and precision. Complicated equipment, including the use of microscopes and computers among other technologies, might be put into play during the process of identification.

Forensic dentistry requires considerable attention to detail, and a professional has to be capable of working patiently in a laborious step by step process without ever rushing. A forensic dentist has to be able to decide their conclusions solely based on what physical evidence is available. Complete and accurate records are a must.

Many professionals can find it emotionally disturbing to work closely with mass disasters, crimes, and the investigation of such circumstances. Just qualifying for the field is stressful enough, and it’s often the second line of work on top of their daily dental practice. Being summoned at any time 24/7 can be quite a jarring lifestyle, on top of personally witnessing the aftermath of murders and accidents. Testifying in court cases can be equally stressful, and sometimes more so.

Still, the income possible in this field, which is often on top of standard dental practice, makes for a comfortable lifestyle that can recuperate from such demands.

At the end of the day, it’s good that individuals fill this field, as their work can bring criminals to justice and peace of mind to families who might not otherwise know what happened to their loved ones.

Tips To Solving A Crime – The Elements To Look For

When it comes to solving a crime, you need to take your cues from the experts. In other words, you need to ask yourself what a professional would do in the situation. Plus, what type of crime are you dealing with? Is a murder? Theft? Is it a bank robbery? There’s a reason why the police department is divided into different units, and it is because different crimes need to be approached in certain ways.

However, there are some basic elements you need to look for and investigate if you want to get to the bottom of the crime. And in this article, you are going to get some tips for solving a crime.

1. A Motive

The first thing the police usually try to do is establish a motive for the crime. Why did it take place? For example, if the crime is murder, are there obvious reasons behind it? Did the killer possibly steal anything from the body? Does the killing look intentional?

There will always be a motive behind a crime, no matter how small or insignificant it might. And sometimes, the motive can be stranger than fiction. Nevertheless, you want to establish whether the crime was intentional, and what the criminal was possibly trying to gain through it.

2. Speak To Eyewitnesses

It always helps if you can talk to people who saw the crime take place. They might be able to give you some valuable information that can lead to solving the crime.

3. Get Suspects

Yes, in a crime everyone is a suspect. But once again, depending on the type of crime, you need to start looking for suspects. Using murder as another example, statistics show that people typically know the person who killed them. Naturally, this is not always the case, but it gives you an idea of where to start.

So, assuming you want to solve a murder, you want to speak to those who are close to the victim. In fact, you want to speak to everyone who got in contact with the victim during the last few days. And once you have a list of suspects and some motive theories, you can start getting to the bottom of the crime and find the person behind it.

4. Gathering Evidence

Just like you need to establish a motive and follow up on suspects, you need to gather valuable evidence as well. Everything that can get tied to the crime can be regarded as evidence. Plus, without evidence, you won’t be able to build a case against the criminal.

5. Putting It All Together

The final step is to put the pieces of the puzzle together. In other words, the motive for the crime needs to connect with the suspect, and the evidence that you gathered along with the eyewitness accounts (if applicable) have to fit in as well.

Obviously, solving a crime isn’t as easy as following these five tips, but they are good fundamentals when starting on your crime-solving journey.

Forensic Dentistry Explained – What Is It?

Forensic Dentistry is teeth examination in cases where other forensic options are limited by the situation status, particularly when there are no other possible forensic examination options to identify the victim or in cases where the perceived attacker leaves bite marks on the victim. The police use forensic dentistry to support or prove legal cases where identification of the victim is determined using their teeth or where the attacker is identified based on teeth marks on a human being.

Using Dentistry As Evidence

Using extremely specialized systems a measurable dental specialist can give very exact results about the victim’s age, at what point he or she died and take DNA tests from the teeth for use in identifying who the victim is. In normal circumstances, teeth are one of the few things remaining when a body breaks down they are valuable for extrapolating DNA tests alongside bone hair and marrow. Scientific dentistry can also be utilized to distinguish between natural teeth bites and synthetic teeth bites as the marks vary from one person to the other.

Human bite marks, similar to fingerprints, are extraordinarily unique and a scientific dental specialist will have the capacity to make a cast or take photos of the bite marks and later analyze the tests and be able to give results that can be compared with other collected or stored results for legal purposes. Human bite marks are always curved or emblemed in arrangement and will show the particular arrangement of the teeth that were used to bite the victim. A U-shaped teeth mark with a space left in between will be as a result of the attacker opening their mouth wide enough for an arm or wrist. The bite mark can be analyzed to determine the intended harm on the victim. The teeth mark depth also plays a big role in determining the amount of force used to inflict the bite.

Poor maintenance of teeth also plays a part in identifying the human bite marks. Missing teeth, breaks or distorted teeth all bear their own unique attributes and all these can be identified with bite mark inspections.

So is the situation of the incisors inside the biter’s mouth and regardless of whether these incisors – which show up as triangular formed injuries or impressions on the skin of the individual who has been bitten – are in great position.

It is conceivable that – applying sufficient power in the jaw of the attacker – that the skin can be infiltrated and notwithstanding leaving wounds they can leave cuts which, when extracted contain saliva, which can be utilized as to make identification through DNA testing.

Areas off of a victim should also be analyzed. A forensic dentist will be able to extract bite marks from a partially eaten piece of fruit. Other information can be obtained from a chewed up pencil or toothpick. A forensic dentist can extract saliva from a glass that is drank from or food that is left partially eaten.

Forensic dentistry incorporates legal collaboration and in most cases to use the data in legal proceedings against the user, be it a victim or the attacker must give consent for their samples to be taken and used. There are other necessary requirements for forensic dentistry to be used in determining legal outcomes some of which include qualification and certifications of the firm contracted or the person conducting the test.

In most cases, the government performs these tasks but there are isolated cases where private practices are authorized to perform the procedures. This highly depends on the magnitude of the case and also the state in which the crime took place.

In cases where forensic dentistry is required to solve a simple non-criminal case, the government might opt to outsource the task to private forensic dentists with the intention of saving on time and resources required for the processes.

Interpretation Of Murder

I managed to hit upon a premise. It was a premise that allowed the book to be described in a sound bite. It became the Freud murder thriller.

I knew about a real life mystery that surrounds Sigmund Freud’s one and only visit to the United States. He came here in 1909.

By all objective measures, he had a tremendously successful visit here and yet he spoke of his trip to America as if it scarred him in some way and no one knows why. The Interpretation of Murder fills up that imaginary space.

New York city in 1909 is a place of fantastic change. Skyscrapers are being built. Motorcars are replacing horses and into this city walks Sigmund Freud. But the very next day he gets drawn into a murder case which becomes quickly a psychoanalytic case and the reason why is because the second victim doesn’t die. She survives the attack, but she’s lost her memory and it turns out she’s suffering from a kind of hysteria. The kind of hysteria that Freud is the first to diagnose and treat with psychotherapy.

Two of the most important scenes in the Interpretation of Murder take place here. Not the solid tour, but below that where they sunk the foundations for this great tower. They had to build what they called a caisson. It was like a great big Diving Bell like the size of a building. When they would do the dynamite and the excavating then when the men came up out of that bridge they began to suffer from terrible illnesses which killed many of them and crippled many others.

The hero of the book is Dr Stratum Junger who is one of the first Americans who sees some of the importance. Some of the great importance of Freud’s ideas.

The book traces the simultaneous investigation by the police from the murder on the one hand and the psychoanalysis of the victim Nora on the other. Until these two methods of investigation converge.

About 90% of the dialogue that Freud and Jung speak is taken from actual books, essays, letters that they wrote.

I dug through thousands of new paper articles and lots of books so that I would make New York City of 1909 as real as I could possibly make it.

When you look at the scene of New York City in 1909 you’re looking at the foundation of the modern American life as we would come to know it.

High society changed from a quiet aristocratic crowd to a fusion of scandal and power and money as it is today. Into this, city walks Sigmund Freud with his own scandalous ideas about sexuality, ideas that would change America and influence it. So this mixture of America changing its face and the new ideas that would change modern American society this is what I was trying to capture, at least in part, in the Interpretation of Murder.

A show you might like if you’re a fan of this kind of murder mystery.