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Introduction to forensic odontology

Dr Pratik Tarvadi, forensic odontology, bite mark, age determination, mass disasters, identification.
What is odontology? That is study of teeth. So what will be forensic odontology? It will be the application of the dentistry or the knowledge of the teeth in the administration of justice? But in this, we add a few points like proper handling, examination of dental evidence and evaluation and presentation of dental findings. So here there are four points. Focusing on this forensic odontology, where can it be used? It can be used in mass disasters like the famous Air India crash of 2010, then coming to identification-gender identification and age identification, that can also be done from teeth. Now, the dental identification procedure also has two forms. One is the comparative and the other is reconstructive.
So comparative means, we already have the ante-mortem data. Like I have a dead body, I have the data of that person’s ante-mortem dental data. Now I have a post-mortem data. I match it and that is an easier way to do it. But how many people have this ante-mortem data. Even if I have gone to a dentist, how much of my data is restored with me in my house. So we do not collect that much of ante-mortem data of my dentition as we collect the other things. So we go on to the next one, that is reconstructive identification, which is called dental profiling, based on the post-mortem dental features that we get.
So now coming to the bite marks, the anterior teeth- two central incisors, two lateral incisors and canine. Six teeth make up the anterior teeth which play a major role in the bite mark. Premolars and molars are uncommon to be seen in a bite mark. Bite marks are the marks that are caused by teeth, either alone or in combination with the mouth- that is lips, tongue pressure, suction pressure. And this can be caused by both- humans and animals. Though accepted judicially in many countries, in our India, we have the very famous Nirbhaya gang rape case. But scientifically, controversies have started. It’s not feasible, it’s not reliable, and to an extent, it does not actually hold the scientific grounds.
That is why the controversies are coming from the scientific part.

What is forensic odontology? How can forensic odontology assist the legal system? How are bite marks created? In this video, we explore these introductory questions with Dr Pratik Tarvadi.

Have you heard of bite mark comparisons being used in criminal investigations or trials? Share with us in the comments below.

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