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Biology Articles » Miscellaneous » Forensic Odontology » History behind Forensic Odontology

History behind Forensic Odontology
- Forensic Odontology

Identification by teeth is not new. It goes back as far back as 66 A.D. at the time of Nero. As the story goes, Nero's mother, Agrippina, had her soldiers kill Lollia Paulina, with instructions to bring back her head as proof that she was dead. Agrippina, unable to positively identify the head, examined the front teeth and on finding the discolored front tooth confirmed the identity of the victim. During the U.S. Revolutionary War, none other than Paul Revere - a young dentist - helped identify war casualties by their bridgework. Teeth are highly resistant to destruction and decomposition, so dental identification can be made under extreme circumstances. It was used on Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun at the end of World War II, the New York City World Trade Center bombing, the Waco Branch Davidien siege, and numerous airplane crashes and natural disasters. The U.S. has a fairly well-developed system of dental records system (the Universal System), so it's not surprising to find it used for the identity of remains or "Jane Doe" victims. You can also tell age solely by analysis of teeth -- the Gustafson method (looking for six signs of wear) or the Lamendin method (looking at transparency of roots). With the Universal System, each tooth is assigned its own number from 1- 32 and the five surfaces of each tooth are also classified.

The first forensic odontologist in the United States was Dr. Paul Revere who identified the extremed body of Dr. Joseph Warren, a revolutionary the British in 1775 through a bridge of silver and ivory that he had constructed two years previously. Dental evidence was first accepted in the United States court in the Webster - Parkman case. Dr. J.W. Webster allegedly stabbed, dismembered on Nov., 23, 1849 in Bostan charred fragments of mineral teeth fused to gold were recognized as those of the deceased by Dr. Nathan Parkman. This evidence was enough for the jury to a verdict of guilty of premeditated murder against Dr. Webster who was subsequently hung.

The first treatise on forensic odontology was written by Dr. Oscar Amoedo in 1898 and was entitled L'Art Dentaire en Medicine Legale. Dr. Oscar is also known as father of Forensic Odontology. In 1937 in Chantilly, a murder was convicted on the evidence of the bite marks that the victim inflicted during her struggle for life. In 1946 Welty and Glasgow devised a system in which as many as 500 cards with dental data could be sorted in one minute by a computer. The following year Taltersall wrote that he advocated the Hollerith system of punch cards and thought this would be very beneficial in compiling dental data. The scope of this specialty has expanded since the end of the 1939-1945 was due to the quarter intensity of international traffic coincident are destroyed and often Internationally there is an obvious growth of interest in this field there are organizations such as the Scandinavian society of Forensic Odontology, the Federation Dentaire International. The Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences, the American society of Forensic Odontology and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. teeth and dental restoration are the only means of identification available. The international Journal of Forensic Dentistry and the Forensic Odontology Section of INFORM are important references for members of Forensic team involved in Odontology.


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