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Role of Dental Records in Identifying Dead

Home | Role of Dental Records in Identifying Dead

02,Feb 2024

When someone dies in an accident, the police ask his/her relatives for identification of the dead. But what if the face or the body of the dead becomes unrecognizable? Then how the police will authenticate the identity of the victim? Here the dental records come into the picture. Sometimes the intensity of an accident is so high that it becomes quite difficult for police and the relatives to identify the victim. This identification becomes even more difficult in case of death caused by plane crash.

As in most of the cases, the dead bodies are burnt and damaged to an extent that they go beyond identification. In such cases, teeth being the hardest part of the human body do not get damaged to a severe extent. Thus, dental records can be used by Forensic odontologists to identify the dead. To get a better understanding, watch our YouTube video “Role of Dental Records in Identifying Plane Crash Victims”.

How Dental Records Are Used in Identification?

You must be thinking about how the teeth can be used for identification as we have this assumption that everyone has the same kind of teeth structure. But this is not right, the teeth of every individual are unique and no two people can share the same set of oral cavities. There are variations in the size, shape, color, and position of the tooth of every human on this earth. Thus they act as a unique feature just like DNA and fingerprints do. In the case of identifying the dead when the body turns unrecognizable, Forensic Odontologists use the collected dental data and compare them with the identifications found in the dead people.

Dental Features Used in Identification:

Some of the most important features that can be used in the identification of dead are:

  • Tooth Morphology,
  • Shape and size of tooth,
  • Missing tooth,
  • Cavities,
  • Capping on teeth,
  • Crowding of teeth,
  • Position of the tooth,
  • Dental Anomalies.

Follow us at Lloyd Institute of Forensic Science and learn more about such interesting topics.

What Can Be Determined Through Dental Records?

The teeth of a person can help in the determination of the age, gender, race, occupation, etc of a person. Thus it helps police in identifying dead when relatives fail to do so.

The findings that can be made using dental records are as follows:

Age Determination:

The number and arrangement of teeth along with the teeth mineralization gives an estimate of the age of the victim. For example, odontologists examine the eruption status of the tooth and give a rough idea of the age of the deceased.

Gender Determination:

The sexual dimorphism of the size of the teeth and the presence of Barr bodies or the sex chromatin in the teeth pulp are used to determine the sex of the victim. For example, linear measurements like Mesio-distal and Bucco-lingual dimensions have been used in the past to determine gender.

Race Determination:

Certain tooth morphological features give an idea about the ethnicity of a person. For example, shoveling on the upper incisor is used in identification as these are common in Asiatic Mongoloids and Amerindians.


We can also identify the occupation of a person based on the observations of the teeth. Excessive tooth wear is found in people working in the mining industry. Apart from this, smoking and chewing tobacco also leave major marks on the teeth that can be used as an identification mark of the victim.

Hence, even after severe damage to the corpse, the dead can be identified using their dental records.