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The teeth of cadavers reveal their identity
Date:6/29/2010

Researchers from the University of Granada have shown that a person's dental patterns can be used as proof of their identity with the same degree of reliability as DNA testing, the method that forensic police use to reveal the identity of dead bodies. The researchers came to their conclusion after analyzing the dental patterns of more than 3,000 people.

"There is sufficient dental diversity between people to enable a scientifically-based human identification method to be developed for forensic purposes", Stella Martn de las Heras, lead author of the study and a professor of Legal and Forensic Medicine at the University of Granada (UGR), tells SINC.

In order to reach this conclusion, the researcher and her team carried out a statistical analysis of 3,166 full and partial sets of teeth taken from the databases in the three most recent National Surveys of Oral Health (1993, 2000 and 2005).

Using these data, the team estimated "conditioned dental diversity", eliminating cases where people had all their teeth "present and healthy" or people who were "edentulous" (without a single tooth in their mouth), as these were of no use for identification purposes.

The results of the study, published in the journal Forensic Science International, show variability values of 0.999 (on a scale of 0 to 1), "which is comparable to the rates for a scientifically-based identification method such as mitochondrial DNA", stresses Martn de las Heras.

However, the scientist does acknowledge the limitations of using dental patterns: "Dental characteristics have low stability within the population compared with mitochondrial DNA sequences, which are only affected by mutations and heteroplasmy (different types within the same mitochondria, cell or individual)".

The dental patterns of a population depend on oral health status and, therefore, on age (decay is a cumulative disease) and the therapeutic dental approach of the time.
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Contact: SINC
info@plataformasinc.es
34-914-251-820
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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