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This body was recovered after fourteen days in a well-heated residence. The necks of the teeth display ‘pink’ tooth discoloration. Identification was accomplished dentally. No further info.

The most common crime scene where a forensic dentist will be required is that where a corpse is present. An area in which the dentist may be particularly useful is where either advanced decomposition or massive disfigurement of the corpse means that identification by relatives is either inadvisable or unlikely. In the case of skeletal remains, dentistry normally offers the best chance of identification.

Fig.1 Advanced decomposition. The body was recovered after fourteen days in a well-heated residence. The necks of the teeth display ‘pink’ tooth discoloration.

The basis of dental identification is that the teeth and the jaws are among the most durable structures in the human body. There have been cases of recognizable teeth and jaw skeletal remains discovered at archeological sites more than one million years old. Long after fingerprints and other physical features and usable genetic material have disappeared, the teeth remain as a sole means of identifying the remains.

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