Positive Dental Identification Using Tooth Anatomy and Digital Superimposition


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Raymond J. Johansen, D.M.D.

601 E. Arrellaga Street, Suite 202

Santa Barbara, CA 93103

E-mail: johansen@silcom.com


Dental identification of unknown human remains continues to be a relevant and reliable adjunct to forensic investigations. The advent of genomic and mitochondrial DNA procedures has not displaced the practical use of dental and related osseous structures remaining after destructive incidents that can render human remains unrecognizable, severely burned, and fragmented. The ability to conclusively identify victims of accident and homicide is based on the availability of antemortem records containing substantial and unambiguous proof of dental and related osseous characteristics. This case report documents the use of digital comparative analysis of antemortem dental models and postmortem dentition, to determine a dental identification. Images of dental models were digitally analyzed using Adobe PhotoshopTM software. Individual tooth anatomy was compared between the antemortem and postmortem images. Digital superimposition techniques were also used for the comparison. With the absence of antemortem radiographs, this method proved useful to reach a positive identification in this case.