Odontology: Dentistry and Bite Marks Essay

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Forensic Odontology

In cases of mass disasters, fires, murders and many other scenarios the use of forensic Odontology is the key to identification. Without the mastery of forensic dentistry the investigation process and identification of victims and perpetrators would be nearly impossible. Forensic Odontology is the application of the arts and science of dentistry to the legal system. Included in the application of Odontology are the use of dentition, bite mark identification and the analysis of negligence. Before one can begin to greatly appreciate the use of this method, the knowledge of its history is of key importance. The earliest dated use of forensic dentistry is in the 1st century A.D. when wife of Roman Emperor
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When testifying about bite mark identification it is important to understand that this knowledge has been used since the beginning of recorded forensic history. Bite marks often lead to the conclusion of loss of function, infections or gross dismemberment since they rarely result in death. These marks might place an assailant at a crime scene in which a rape, murder or abuse has taken place. For the use of this process to be used in a court of law the marks must be recognizable as bite marks. Bite marks are more easily used on foods or death people rather then the living. This is due to the reliability of dimensions, inflammation and bruising of the living person. Antemortem bite marks are used to identify a time of death. This process works because of the beating heart while the injury is inflicted. Bruising will be found round the mark that will diffuse after death. Perimortem, or marks left within 5 minutes of death, are used since the injury is inflicted while the heart is still beating, which will leave a well defined mark behind. Thirdly, the least reliable bite mark is a mark left postmortem. This mark occurs after death while the heart is no longer beating. A mark caused after death will have no bruising, but well defined marks (James, Nordby). Bite responses by the assailants and victims are much different and easily differentiated. An