Dr. Norman "Skip" Sperber, chief forensic dentist for California's Department of Justice, said the new technique sounded "very promising and worthwhile.
"This could certainly revolutionize our armament and help us greatly in the event of a mass disaster," he said. "The numbers are very impressive, and the researchers deserve a lot of credit."
But Sperber cautioned that every dental identification system has its limits.
"This method they developed would greatly enhance dealing with mass disasters where bodies were in relatively good condition," he said. "It'll work for traumas that didn't destroy the bodies, or where bodies have decomposed but the teeth are intact, such as in situations involving poison, radiation, a boat disaster, that kind of thing.
"But I was one of the senior people working on identifying people in New York after 9/11, and, based on dental records, we were able to identify only about 1,500 of the 3,000 missing people," Sperber added. "A lot of the bodies were just vaporized. And if you get a trauma like we did in New York, no system is going to work, because there are no teeth left. So, this sounds very good, but it won't help in every situation."
To learn more about forensics and dental records, visit Forensic Dentistry Online.
SOURCES: Eiko Kosuge, D.D.S., dentist, radiologist, lecturer, department of oral and maxillofacial radiology, Kanagawa Dental College, Japan; Norman "Skip" Sperber,
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