Forensic Dental Evidence

Forensic Dental Evidence, 2nd Edition

An Investigator's Handbook

Forensic Dental Evidence, 2nd Edition,C. Michael Bowers,ISBN9780123820006

C Bowers   

Academic Press




252 X 195

This book provides the necessary tools and practical suggestions for forensic scientists and investigators charged with analysis of a crime scene.

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Key Features

  • Contributions by internationally recognized and experienced forensic experts cover missing persons cases and mass disaster cases from around the world
  • Contains over 200 full-color photographs of crime scene evidence, human identification cases and bitemark details
  • Includes many new exoneration cases derived from the Editor's work with the Innocence Project


Forensic Dental Evidence: An Investigators Handbook highlights the discussion regarding unjust convictions caused by inaccurate bitemark opinions. The book focuses on cases that use forensic techniques, emphasizing modern methods and protocols. Through this book, the latest information available is offered to the forensic community. This book demonstrates expertise in forensic dentistry by presenting chapters on human identification in domestic and international situations; investigations on missing person and violent crimes against persons; mass-disaster planning and disaster response; and new threats from terrorist attacks on urban centers. Furthermore, it discusses topics regarding bitemark evidence, such as forensic photography, analysis and legal issues. The book also presents two chapters on new scientific topics: The Next Level in Victim Identification: Materials Properties as an Aid in Victim Identification; and DNA for First Responders: Recognizing, Collecting, and Analyzing Biological Evidence Related to Dentistry (chapters 3 and 8, respectively). This book is suited to anyone seeking knowledge on forensic dentistry; it will be of great value to investigators, lawyers, medical examiners, nurses, and dentists with an interest in forensic dental cases.


Forensic professionals (odontologists, medical examiners, researchers and practitioners), law enforcement professionals (police, investigators, police academies / training), dentists preparing to be an expert witness, legal professionals and forensic science post-graduate students

C. Michael Bowers

D.D.S., J.D.

C. Michael Bowers is an Associate Clinical Professor at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. He is also the Deputy Medical Examiner in Ventura, California. Dr. Bowers is a practicing forensic dentist and consultant who has testified and worked on hundreds of cases where dental evidence has been involved. He is a former Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Odontology, a Senior Crime Scene Analyst for the International Association for Identification (IAI) and has written other articles, chapters and books on forensic dentistry. He owns and operates his own dental practice in Ventura, CA.

Affiliations and Expertise

Associate Clinical Professor, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; Deputy Medical Examiner, Ventura, CA, USA

View additional works by C. Michael Bowers

Forensic Dental Evidence, 2nd Edition


Photo Credits


Preface to Second Edition

Preface to First Edition



1. Historical Dental Investigations


    The Forensic Examination of Herakleides

    The Aging of Herakleides

    The Odontological Identification of Adolf Hitler, Using Cinematographic Documents


         A Short Biography of Adolf Hitler

         Hitler's Death

         Remains and X-Rays

         High and Moderate Degrees of Concordance


    Dental Forensic Identifications: The Beginnings to the Nineteenth  Century

         Hesi-Ré: The First Dentist

         Lollia Paulina: The First Record of Forensic Dental Identification

         Dr. Joseph Warren: The First Forensic Dental Identification in the United States

         Edinburgh 1814: The First Use of Dental Evidence in a Court Case

         Tooth Eruption Patterns as an Age Determinant

         Parkman/Webster Murder Trial, Boston 1850: The First Court Case Largely Built on Dental Evidence

         John Wilkes Booth: Identification of the Infamous Assassin

         The “Bazar de la Charité” Disaster Results in the World’s First Forensic Odontology Text

2. Dental Detectives

    Who Is a Qualified Forensic Dentist? Advice: Use the Best

    What Dentists Do

    What to Do When “a Skull with Some Teeth” Has Been Discovered

    The Use of Teeth by Forensic Science

    Factors that Change the Appearance of Teeth Over a Lifetime

    The Language of Dental Identification

    Tooth Names and Quantity of Teeth in Adults and Children

    Human Tooth Morphology

    The Dental Investigator's Role in Forensic Case Work

    Collecting and Preserving Useful Evidence

    Scientific Dental Investigations

    The Most Famous Bitemark Case of the 20th Century

    Woman’s Identity Confirmed by a Missing Tooth

3. The Next Level in Victim Identification: Materials Properties as an Aid in Victim Identification


    Modern Challenges, Radiography, and Fluorescence

    SEM and SLICE


    Incinerated Remains

    Collection and Analysis

4. Forensic Dentistry Investigation Protocols

    Dental Uniqueness

    Dental Autopsy

    Terminology for Body Identification (from the ABFO Guidelines, www.abfo.org)

5. Recognition, Documentation, Evidence Collection, and Interpretation of Bitemark Evidence

    The History of Bitemarks in the New World

    Sequence of Events in a Bitemark Investigation


    Preliminary Bitemark Examination

    Skin Distortions Affecting Biter Identification

    Features Indicative of Bite Marks in Skin

    Locations of Bitemarks on Humans

    Variable Appearance of Bitemarks

    Evidence Collection for Bitemarks


    Impressions of a Bitemark

    What the Dentist Does Next

    Objects Bitten: How Certain Is the Dentist About the Biter?

    What the Dentist Looks for in the Suspect's Mouth

    Evidence Collection Protocols

    Recovery of Bitemark Evidence from the Victim

    Photographs of Potential Bitemark Evidence

    Recording the Topography of a Bitemark

    Documentation of Bite Mark Evidence

    Live Victim Testimony

    Recovery of Bitemark Evidence from a Live Person

    Laboratory Analysis of Bitemark Evidence

    Evidence Collection from a Suspect

    Dental and dna Evidence Collection from a Suspect

    Comparison of Injury and Suspect Dental Exemplars


6. Bitemarks in England and Wales


    The Process: Identifying a Bitemark and Collecting Evidence

    The Process: Evidence Collection from the Bite Suspect(s)

    The Process: Comparison

    The Process: Report and Trial


7. Legal Issues Concerning Bitemark Evidence in the United States

    Legal Factors of Evidence Collection and Its Use in Court

    The Fourth Amendment: Arrest Search and Seizure

    Admissibility of Expert Evidence Based on Relevance and Scientific Reliability

    National Academy of Sciences (NAS) 2009 Review of Bitemark Evidence

    Report Concerns About Certain Forensic Disciplines

    Report Concerns About Bitemark Analysis

    Types of Dental Testimony by Dentists

    Use of Bitemark Evidence in Jurisdictions Using the Frye Standard for Admissibility

    Use of Bitemark Testimony Under the Federal Rules of Evidence

    Typical Questions Law Enforcement Asks Regarding Dental Evidence

    The Scientific Limitations of Bitemark Testimony

    Bitemark Guidelines

    Scientific Literature on Bitemark Identification

    The Accuracy of Skin as a Substrate for Bitemarks

    Uniqueness of the Human Dentition

    Future Improvements to Bitemark Identification

    Wrongful Convictions and Erroneous Bitemark Opinions

    The Innocence Project/Network

    Erroneous Bitemark Opinions that Were Overturned by DNA

8. DNA for First Responders: Recognizing, Collecting, and Analyzing Biological Evidence Related to Dentistry

    Why DNA?

    DNA Applications in Forensic Dentistry

    Sample Collection Techniques

    Behind the Laboratory Door

    Interpreting DNA Evidence

9. Missing and Unidentified Persons: The National Crime Information Center Dental Enhancements

    The Function of the Dental Enhancements

    History and Development of the Dental Functions in NCIC

    Collection of Dental Information

    The NCIC Missing and Unidentified Persons File Data Collection Entry Guides

    The National Dental Image/Information Repository

    Comparison Logic

    The NCIC Dental Crossmatch Report ($.M)

    NCIC Offline Search

    NCIC Records Entered Prior to April 4, 2004

    Juvenile Runaway Issues

    Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) Conversion Issue

    Wanted Persons Issues

    Other Missing and Unidentified Persons Resources


10. The Disaster Victim Identification System: Its General Structure and the Swiss Involvement


    Interpol and DVI

    The Disaster Victim Identification Guide

    The Swiss DVI Organization


    The Swiss DVI Team in Thailand after the Tsunami

    The Back-Office in Berne, Switzerland


11. Recognizing, Documenting, and Analyzing Physical Evidence in Abuse Cases

    Child Maltreatment

    Abuse During Pregnancy

    Physical Injuries During Dating Relationship

    Spouse Abuse (Intimate Partner Violence)

    Elder Abuse and Neglect

    Techniques for Recording Evidence of Traumatic Injuries


12. Managing a Mass Fatality Incident


    Dental Response

    Temporary Morgues

    Processing Human Remains

    Identification Methods

    Challenges in Mass Disaster Management

    Family Assistance Center

    Mental Health Counseling

    Aftermath of a Commercial Airline Accident

    MFI Recommendations for Medical Examiners’ Needs

    International DVI Teams Cooperating During an Event

13. Identifying Victims of 9/11 At the Office of Chief Medical Examine City of New York

14. Australasian and Multinational Disaster Victim Identification


    Local Incidents

    Regional Assistance

    Multinational Disasters

    Simplifying Deployments


15. Photography and Forensic Dental Evidence

    Photographic Duties

    Standard Photographic Protocols


16. The Use of Digital Imaging in Human Identification and Crime Scene Analysis

    Measuring the Physical Characteristics of Two- and Three-Dimensional Evidence


    Digital Comparison of Bitemark Evidence

    Dental Identification: The Uses of Digital Imaging


Quotes and reviews

"This book, really more impressively a treatise, leaves no (dental) stone unturned in explicating the history, the savoir faire, the investigative potential, the litigation and the research firmly establishing the foundations of dental identifications in the firmament of the forensic sciences." - James E Starrs, Professor Emeritus of Law & Forensic Sciences, The George Washington University 

"Forensic Dental Evidence: An Investigator's Handbook is a must-read for all participants in the criminal justice system--judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, investigators and police, to name a few--as well as all forensic odontologists. C. Michael Bowers, one of the world's most renowned forensic dental experts, draws upon a wealth of his expertise and that of others to put forth in a highly accessible book information and guidance that will surely prevent misidentifications and wrongful convictions." - Maurice Possley, Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University Law School, Santa Clara, CA; Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist

"...this book comprehensively covers concepts and protocols necessary for criminal investigation involving dental evidence and will be of educational value and interest to many categories of reader. It is practical, up to date, informative, well-illustrated and appropriately cautionary."-- Judith A Hinchliffe, Independent Forensic Odontologist, New Zealand in Journal of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology (2011)


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