Forensic odontology or Forensic dentistry is an upcoming branch of dentistry, an evolving science and indispensable science in medico-legal matters and in the identification of the dead person. The term “forensic” is from the Latin, meaning forum or a place where legal matters are discussed and the theory behind forensic dentistry is that “no two mouths are alike”. Forensic odontology is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences and technologies used to investigate and establish the facts of interest in relation to criminal or civil law.
Teeth are the most hardest and robust tissues of the human body. They are often resistant to decomposition even in major accidents, crime, burial, or other severe exposure to the elements. The dental patterns are unique for every individual. This uniqueness is also due to variety of treatments given by the dentist. Therefore, dentition of a person is useful for individual identification and comparison, if records exist for the purpose. Forensic dental identification plays a primary role in the identification of remains when postmortem changes, traumatic tissue injury, or lack of fingerprint record invalidate the use of visual or fingerprint method. Dental tissues are often used to determine age, sex, and ethnicity of the person who can either be a victim or a suspect. In courts, the dental evidence has been used for the past many years.
Data collection methods and supplementary technologies used in forensic dental identification have undergone significant transformation. Evolving trends have been observed in the conventional methods used such as dental record maintenance, dental imaging techniques, bite-mark analysis, DNA analysis using oral tissues, cheiloscopy, and rugoscopy. In addition, the recent concepts such as facial reconstruction, denture identification, comparison microscopes, and tongue prints have been introduced in the field of forensic odontology.
Forensic dentistry has become an integral part of forensic medicine over the past 100 years. This has been due to the dedication of people like Amoedo, Gustafson, Sognaes, Keiser-Nielsen and Suzuki, Whittaker, Clement, to name but a few. They established the essential role which forensic dentistry plays mainly in the identification of human remains.