These represent differences between the antemortem and the postmortem dental exam findings that can be explained by continued dental treatment. For example, an unrestored tooth may have been restored in the time interval between the last dental record entry and the death of the individual. Or, a small restoration may be enlarged because of additional decay. In any case, these discrepancies do not necessarily negate an identification if there are enough similarities in the remaining evidence.
These represent differences between the antemortem records and the postmortem exam findings that are physically impossible and prove the remains cannot be those of the individual under consideration. For example, an unrestored tooth is found in the unknown remains. On examination of the antemortem records, however, the radiographs reveal the tooth in question had previously been restored. Since natural tooth structure can never be replaced once it has been restored, this finding would verify that the remains were not of those of the suspect individual. Once discrepancies have been examined, the dental team will compare the number and degree of any similarities found in comparing the antemortem and postmortem records. No minimum number of similarities are required or accepted for positive ID. In many cases a judgment decision on the part of the examiner may be required regarding the certification of the ID.
At some point in the ID process, as shown in figure 10-7, the dental team will use dental radiographs and compare with the dental remains of the deceased. There are four categories in radiographic comparison.
The postmortem radiographs show a restoration that in every respect is identical to a restoration in the same tooth in the antemortem radiographs as shown in figure 10-8. In some cases, the radiographs may be laid on top of each other to compare. Multiple distinctive points of comparison are normally documentable in a single restoration.
Figure 10-7. - Forensic dental team comparing dental remains with radiographs.Continue Reading