Researchers from the University of Granada have said that a person’s dental patterns could be as reliable an identity proof for dead bodies as DNA.
Forensic police uses DNA testing to reveal the identity of dead bodies.
The researchers came to the conclusion after analysing the dental patterns of more than 3,000 people.
«There is sufficient dental diversity between people to enable a scientifically-based human identification method to be developed for forensic purposes,» said Stella Martin de las Heras, lead author of the study.
The scientists carried out a statistical analysis of 3,166 full and partial sets of teeth taken from the databases in the three most recent National Surveys of Oral Health (1993, 2000 and 2005).
Using these data, the team estimated «conditioned dental diversity», eliminating cases where people had all their teeth «present and healthy» or people who were «edentulous» (without a single tooth in their mouth), as these were of no use for identification purposes.
The results of the study, show variability values of 0.999 (on a scale of 0 to 1), «which is comparable to the rates for a scientifically-based identification method such as mitochondrial DNA», said Martin de las Heras.
However, there are limitations of using dental patterns.
«Dental characteristics have low stability within the population compared with mitochondrial DNA sequences, which are only affected by mutations and heteroplasmy (different types within the same mitochondria, cell or individual),» she added.