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Biology Articles » Miscellaneous » Forensic Odontology » Steps in Forensic Odontology

Steps in Forensic Odontology
- Forensic Odontology

One of the first things they'll do is obtain a saliva sample from the bite. This, of course, can be done by others, but a forensic dentist can make sure sample extraction doesn't affect quality of the bite mark. Next, the forensic dentist will take photographs. This is a technique shared by all experts, and it's fairly important to get the lighting, color, and camera angle right. A linear scale should be placed somewhere in the photograph. A camera angle of 90 degrees is best for a flat surface, while a 40 degree angle causes 25% distortion of a bite mark. Next, the forensic dentist makes multiple impressions, casts, or molds of the bite mark, and has access to a variety of materials in which to choose the right gum, rubber, plastic, or powder to make a cast. Some forensic dentists used the so-called Dorion method, which advocates the removal of bitten tissue for microscopic examination. Others use advanced techniques such as scanning electron microscopy, computer-enhanced digitization, and xeroradiology. Computerized bite analysis software also exists. Once a suspect is apprehended, the forensic dentist makes one or more impressions of the suspect's teeth, comparing them to the recorded bite marks, and if called to testify, renders an opinion of the probability of a match. Courts have upheld the constitutionality of involuntarily taking a dental impression from a suspect, as they have for most biological specimens from the suspect.

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