How are Crash Victims Identified by Dental Records

According to forensic dentist Dr. Roy Sonkin, the teeth represent the most durable material in the human system.

Teeth are able to withstand heat that exceeds 1,200 degrees. Thus, quite often the teeth represent the sole feature that allows experts to identify the victim.

The victims of explosion & fire accidents, such as the one where actor Paul Walker died last week, are extremely difficult to identify.

In order to perform the ID of the victim, the forensic dentists actually compare the dental records of the person when he was alive to dental X-rays and photographs of the teeth after death.

The forensic dentist will perform an extremely meticulous job in analyzing the teeth.

The dentist will ensure that teeth match down to the smallest detail- dental work performed, dental cavities, any dental fissures, and even analyzing thoroughly the biologic teeth which did not suffer any procedures.

Forensic dentists often ask the family of the victim for pictures where the respective person was smiling and showing the teeth.

Such photographs are further needed for analysis and in order to be able to make the final confirmation.

The dental records comparison is many times checked with the help of a special computer program.

However, dentist points out that in many places experts still rely only on visual examination of these dental records to perform identification.

Dr. Sonkin also points out that the ID process of dental remains is most often an extremely tedious and depressing process for the family members, but it ultimately has to be performed.

  • ladan

    Yes, it is amazing that this is sometimes the only way to identify acrash victim or anyone else who is burned in any kind of accident to the point of non-identification. It is clearly showing now that forensic dentists will be having a constant participation to identity victims in this kind of incident.