Forensic odontology involves the management, examination, evaluation and presentation of dental evidence in criminal or civil proceedings, all in the interest of justice. The forensic odontologist assists legal authorities by examining dental evidence in different situations.
Dental identification assumes a primary role in the identification of remains when postmortem changes, traumatic tissue injury or lack of a fingerprint record invalidate the use of visual or fingerprint methods. The identification of dental remains is of primary importance when the deceased person is skeletonized, decomposed, burned or dismembered. The principal advantage of dental evidence is that, like other hard tissues, it is often preserved after death. Even the status of a person’s teeth changes throughout life and the combination of decayed, missing and filled teeth is measurable and comparable at any fixed point in time.The fundamental principles of dental identification are those of comparison and of exclusion. For example, dental identification is used when antemortem records for the putative deceased person are available and circumstantial evidence suggests the identity of the decedent, and when antemortem records of other suspicious, unidentified persons are available and must be ruled out. Identification requires a list of the possible persons involved so that appropriate antemortem records can be located.