Volume 48, Issue 5 (September 2003)
A Web-Based Survey of Odontologist's Opinions Concerning Bitemark Analyses
Within the field of forensic dentistry, the detection, collection, and analysis of bitemarks remains one of the most contentious areas. Attempts at the production of consensus documents have produced documents such as the ABFO's Guidelines for Bitemark Evidence Collection. Despite this, the range of differing analysis techniques, allied with a varied opinion base on the robustness of bitemark conclusions has led to polarized views within the profession. The purpose of this study was to survey forensic dentists to obtain their views on a number of crucial components of bitemark theory and contentious areas within the discipline. Using a web-based survey, 14 questions were asked of respondents. Seventytwo odontologists completed the survey, with 38% being of Diplomate status, 10% had completed 20 or more bitemark cases, and 20% between 10 and 20 cases, 91% of respondents believed that the human dentition was unique, with 78% believing that this uniqueness could be represented on human skin during the biting process. Seventy percent believed that they could positively identify an individual from a bitemark, and 22% stated that the statistical tool, the product rule, should be applied to bitemark conclusions. Over half of the odontologists used overlays for bitemark analysis, with a digital method of production the most popular. The implications of these and other findings are discussed.