Evaluation of Techniques for Dental and Dna Identification for Mass Disaster Victim

Topics: DNA profiling, Identification, DNA Pages: 7 (2080 words) Published: June 7, 2010
Evaluation of techniques for Dental
and DNA identification
for mass disaster victim


A mass disaster is an unanticipated event that results in serious injury and death to a large number of people. Mass disaster can be categorised into three categories, natural disasters, accidental disasters or even intentional terrorism acts. Natural disasters could include events such as earthquake, flooding or tsunamis. Accidental disasters could be associated with events aircraft, ship or train collision. While terrorism acts may include airplane hijacking or suicide bombings (Alonso, A., Martin, P., Albarran, C et al., 2005). Traumatic experiences such as those mentioned above results in a large number of unidentified victims, this is when disaster victim identification comes into play.

Disaster victim identification (DVI) is a necessary task that must be undertaken after any mass fatality incident (Graham, E.A.M., 2006). This responsibility involves many specialists from search, rescue, and recovery teams to forensic pathologists, odontologists and anthropologists, which assist in identifying the deceased (Hemphill, L.T., 2005).

There is a variety of different techniques available for disaster victim identification which include visual identification, fingerprinting, DNA typing, radiology, inspection of unique medical features and dental comparisons (Hemphill, L.T., 2005).

The purpose of this paper is to analysis and evaluate techniques associated with identification of victims based on DNA analysis and dental characteristics. As many studies have shown that DNA analysis and dental identification are the most reliable and effective ways of identifying remains of disaster victims. To evaluate the two methods mentioned above this study will identify factors which influence the accuracy of victim identification as well as its benefits and limits.

Dental Characteristics:
Forensic examiners have a variety of techniques to identify human remains. History shows that a large number of these techniques are based on dental characteristics of each individual. Dental identification is the most common technique used in disaster victim identification investigations. This is due to the fact that most mass disasters have extreme impact on their victim’s physical appearance. Therefore only most resistant post-mortem tissues of their victims are preserved (Nedel, F et al., 2009). This method is particularly useful for disaster victim identifications as dental structures are considered the most indestructible part of the body (Whitaker, D.K., 1995). This is because dental tissue is known to resist harsh conditions, conditions such as exposure to high temperatures, humidity and extreme pressure as it has a high mineral content (Nedel, F et al., 2009). Dental identification process begins with the forensic dentistry team collecting the relevant remains of disaster victims. Then dental structures are then analysed to see if the victim had any work done on their teeth in the past such as, fillings, bridge work, or even dental implants (Balwant Rai B.D.S., 2007). Once dental structure is analysed it is than compared with ante mortem information collected from family and past records. Another reason why dental structures are used in disaster victim identifications is because each person has a unique set of teeth so it is easier for specialists to tell each victim apart. This could be due to different foods, customs and environments which could impact their teeth. Usually dental characteristic and dental structures are different to each person which is the primary reason why dental data is considered one of the most reliable methods of human identification (Whitaker, D.K., 1995) and therefore can positively assist in differentiating between unknown individuals and correctly identify victims (Nedel, F et al., 2009).

Dental identification has a relatively high success rate for identifying mass...

Bibliography: 1. Alonso, A., Martin, P., Albarran, C et al. (2005) Challenges of DNA profiling in mass
disaster Investigations
2. Graham, E.A.M. (2006) Disaster victim identification. Forensic science, Medicine and Pathology, (2-3) pp 203-207
3. Hemphill, L.T., (2005) Forensic dentistry key in identifying victims of tsunamis, other disasters
5. Whittaker, D.K. (1995) Forensic dentistry in the identification of victims and assailants. Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine, (2) pp 145-151
6. Balwant Rai B.D.S
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