The things a crime writer learns, including some fascinating facts about Forensic Dentistry

In the process of researching crime novels, I come across some interesting facts and some interesting web sites, for example The British Association for Forensic Odontology.

Forensic dentistry or rather Forensic odontology, as it is often called, is one such area.  I haven't used this greatly in my crime novels although it does feature a little in one of the first of the Horton series, Tide of Death, but I think this might just have given me an idea for another Horton crime novel, especially when a body is fished out of the sea with little remaining to provide an ID and no flesh for fingerprint analysis.  Or I might use it in a thriller. Even if there are only a few teeth available, an opinion can still be offered on age, habits, oral hygiene and individual features. According to the BAFO even where the subject has no teeth, useful information can still be gleaned from the study of any dentures and by X-raying the jaws and skull. Don't you agree, fascinating stuff!

And here's a little more information about forensic odontology and the scope of the work.

"Forensic odontology is a branch of forensic medicine and, in the interests of justice, deals with the proper examination, handling and presentation of dental evidence in a court of law. The work of a forensic odontologist covers:
  • Identification of unknown human remains through dental records and assisting at the scene of a mass disaster
  • Age estimations of both living and deceased persons including neo-natal remains
  • Analysis of bite marks found on victims of attack
  • Identification of bitemarks in other substances such as wood, leather and foodstuffs
  • Analysis of weapon marks using the principles of bite mark analysis
  • Presentation of bite and weapon mark evidence in court as an expert witness
  • Assistance in building up a picture of lifestyle and diet at an archaeological site."
 The British Association for Forensic Odontology.

ForensicDentistryOnline is another very useful and interesting web site.

Plenty of ideas here for more crime novels.


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