Morphological methods for age estimation from teeth have been developed and applied to samples without taking the postmortem interval into consideration. We studied differences in morphological age-related changes between fresh extracted teeth and teeth from human skeletal remains in order to develop appropriate dental age estimation methods according to the time after death. Forty-three permanent teeth from dental patients were compared to 37 teeth obtained from human skeletal remains with a postmortem interval from 21 to 37 years. Morphological age-related changes were investigated by measuring variables on intact and half-sectioned teeth. A new computer assisted image analysis procedure to avoid subjectivity was developed to measure variables in sectioned specimens. Dental color, translucency length, attrition, cementum apposition, and secondary dentin showed higher values in teeth from human skeletal remains than in fresh extracted teeth. Variables obtained by morphometric analysis of computer-generated images (tooth length, tooth width, root length, and root area) showed higher values in fresh extracted teeth than in teeth from skeletal remains. The postmortem interval affects age-related morphological changes, and therefore different methods should be used for teeth of unknown postmortem interval.
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