When it comes to oral hygiene and dental treatments, humans are a bit like snowflakes as no two mouths are exactly alike. Because everyone will have their own unique dental work in place (to treat dental problems such as gum recession and cavities) dental forensics (the art of properly examining dental evidence) is an incredibly important science.
Thanks to the slew of television shows surrounding stories of identifying crime victims, more individuals have learned that examining teeth and dental charts provide a viable methodology for correctly determining human remains. The science of dental forensics traces back to as far back as 66 A.D. and is still used for a number of reasons including authenticating human remains, identifying victims of mass fatalities, assessing of injuries caused by biting, pin-pointing abuse, proving (or disproving) malpractice and for estimating age. Additionally, the art of forensic odontology has been essential in identifying some of the most infamous and notorious folks in history.
Anyone old enough to remember September 11, 2001 will recount that day as one of the biggest tragedies in American history. It was on that fateful day, terrorists attacked the nation and used airplanes to knock down the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City and theoretically turned some of the most expensive real estate in the world into a mass grave.
Estimates suggest that 2,749 victims perished in the attack that day. While many of the remains have not been identified, dental forensics (combining the analysis of teeth and dental work on the scene with dental records from dentist of the victims) were used to help identify half of the victims and provide peace of mind to their survivors. Scientists are still working on proper identifying the victims of the attack today.
Throughout history terrorists have come in all shapes and sizes, Austrian Adolf Hitler is just one example of a variation. He is known for instigating the Holocaust and the mass extermination of six million Jews and millions of other innocents. After the mass killings of folks, he instructed his military to rip out the dental work of the corpses. Those dental bridges and gold fillings of his victims were harvested for profit, however his dental work was only used to identify his corpse.
Over time many things have been said about Hitler, including that he was a coward as he reportedly committed suicide by gunshot on April 30, 1945. Some conspiracy theorists denied he died, but dental forensics were used to properly identify his remains and that of his wife Eva Braun.
After he killed himself and his bride ingested cyanide, their bodies were burned (per his final wishes). Those charred remains were found and autopsied by Russian a month later and according to Professor Perrier "What they found were charred pieces of bone, such as pieces of skull, the lower jaw and part of the upper jaw consisting of a bridge with nine units" (http://www.fpp.co.uk/Hitler/docs/death/CorpseID2.html).
Over time other forensic experts confirmed the finding. In 1972 Hitler's unique dental work was verified by 'newly' released X-rays of Hitler's head (originally snapped on July 20, 1944). Those images showed bridge work, periodontal disease and "very unusual dental work that backed the results of the original Russian autopsy.
Some terrorists focus on Americans, others on Jews while others have a finite vision that ultimately help them earn the moniker of serial killer.Theodore Robert "Ted" Bundy is one such psychopath that can loosely fit in the terrorist category. Bundy is known for kidnapping, assaulting, killing and raping, numerous young women in the 1970s. Dental forensics were helped to get him behind bars.
One of Bundy's victims was 20-year-old Lisa Levy. Bundy broke into the Chi Omega sorority house on or around January 15, 1978, went into Levy's bedroom. He then proceeded to beat her unconscious, strangled her, rip off one of her nipples, bit deeply into her left buttock and sexually assaulted her with a hair mist bottle (Foreman, Laura; The editors of Time-Life Books (1992). Serial Killers – True Crime (Hardcover ed.). Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books. ISBN 978-0-7835-0001-0). As disturbing as it may sound it was a good thing he did as he left incriminating evidence which eventually lead to his arrest and prison sentence.
When Bundy bit done on Levy's left buttock, he left a bite impression. Forensic odontologists Richard Souviron and Lowell Levine matched castings of that mark to work on Bundy's teeth. That forensic dentist information was submitted into evidence and as a result he was sentenced to death.
Like it or not, dental treatments and the work of a dentist can be important to a person in times of both life and death. Individuals helping to find a dentist to help implement dental care in the here and now does not have to worry about making headlines first. Simply calling 1800Dentist.com to find the name of a pre-screened dentist and to make an appointment will do the trick.