Journal Published Online: 01 November 2001
Volume 46, Issue 6

Forensic Dental Identifications in the Greater Houston Area



In order to confirm the identity of the deceased, 1.7% of the deaths (162 cases) evaluated at the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office during the time period of this study required a forensic dental evaluation. Data were collected and analyzed. The manner of death was ranked in order as follows: 30% homicide; 20% accident of various types other than motor vehicle accidents; 18% motor vehicle accidents; 16% remain undetermined; 9% natural causes; and 7% suicide. The cause of death was: 24% asphyxia, smoke inhalation, or thermal burn injuries; 23% blunt-force trauma; 18% miscellaneous causes of death; 15% undetermined; 13% gun shot wounds; and 7% asphyxia. The condition of the remains were: 38% charred or incinerated; 31% decomposing; 18% skeletal remains; 6% “fresh” or recently deceased; 4% fragmented; and 3% severely beaten or mangled with displacement of the maxillomandibular region, complicating the dental identification procedure. The gender was: 62% male; 34% female; and 4% undetermined. The race was: 55% Caucasian; 19% Hispanic; 14% black; 1% Asian; and 11% undetermined. The age was: 2% from 0 to 10 years of age; 9% from 11 to 20; 21% from 21 to 30; 18% from 31 to 40; 13% from 41 to 50; 8% from 51 to 60; 5% from 61 to 70; 4% from 71 to 80; 1% from 81 to 90; and 19% undetermined. Further evaluation of these and future dental identification cases will provide valuable data to help prepare the forensic dentist for the wide variety of cases that must be evaluated in the course of their careers.

Author Information

Delattre, VF
University of Texas Health Science Center Dental Branch at Houston, Houston, TX Harris County Medical Examiner's Office, Houston, TX
Pages: 6
Price: $25.00
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Stock #: JFS15159J
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS15159J