Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Chasing Bites with Bytes ;)

There cant be more grotesque evidence than bite on a victim of a murder or a rape which was hard enough to produce an injury mark? BITE MARK ANALYSIS has been prejudicial in the past, and probative value related to its applications in criminalistics is still being established by addition of technology and human resources.

“You love Bite mark analysis or hate Bite mark analysis, it’s here to stay”.. so why not blog it??

Definition of Bite-mark analysis:

“Bite mark may be defined as mark made by teeth either alone or in combination with other mouthparts.”

MacDonald DG. Bite mark recognition and interpretation. J Forensic Sci Soc 1974;14:229‑33. 

“A  bite  mark  has  been  defined  as  a pattern   produced   by   human   or   animal dentitions  and  associated  structures  in  any substance   capable   of   being   marked   by these means.

Clark MA, Sandusky GE, Hawley DA, Pless JE, Fardal PM, Tate LR. Fatal and near-fatal animal    bite    injuries. J    Forensic    Sci. 1991;36(4)1256-61.

Bite-mark analysis a boon:

Bite marks are impressions made by teeth and are just distinctive and unique like finger prints. They can be seen on skin (arms, breast, etc) or food items. Most importantly bite site can be source of DNA and victim should be analysed “as it is” condition. This means the bite site should be brought for analysis ASAP to avoid tampering and contamination. Objective and reliable standard guidelines should be followed and report should not be based on elements of being over ambitious / unscientific / impulsive / illogical. (also read AMERICAN BOARD OF FORENSIC ODONTOLOGY guidelines)

Bite-mark analysis a bane:

Bite mark analysis has been under scanner due its dark past of wrongful convictions. And “innocent project” has declared the evidence generated by bite-marks as deemed and unreliable. Guilty by bite mark were proves innocent later by DNA.

(Also read: Innocent project)

 “Bite mark evidence is the poster child of unreliable forensic science”

Chris Fabricant, Innocence Project

 Bite mark in Indian context:

Bite mark analysis has been used in many cases like Nirbhaya case,  Sheena  Bhora case, Paper-mill    Colony    case    and    numerous others. In India, State and Central forensic science laboratories have been using primarily bite-mark superimposition for solving majority of concerned cases. Majority of cases don’t even reach a trained forensic odontologist or for that matter even a dental professional who has capability of identifying human dentition professionally. Mostly the cases are handled by Forensic medicine / pathologists. The concerned authorities need to be sensitised that  forensic odontologist should be involved right from beginning since they are in better position to analyse and report the evidence.

(also read: Failure of science or science of failure)

Bite mark analysis

We have long way to go before we put bite mark analysis in the list accurate and robust ammunition of an expert.






Monday, 7 June 2021

Forensic odontology or Forensic dentistry, and its scope in India

There is a huge rush for learning full time and part time forensic odontology all over the globe. This is due very exciting concept of this subject itself. In Indian context also, subject of forensic dentistry has exploded a large number of courses. There has been cropping up of many studies / thesis that are being designed on this sub-domain of forensic medicine /forensic science. Before you decide to venture on it to become India based forensic odontologist, it will be good that you explore its scope.

Read it till end if you aiming to be a dental detective!

What is Forensic dentistry?

Forensic dentistry is also known as forensic odontology. It is utilisation and application of knowledge of oral and para-oral structures in civil and criminal matters. All this required specialised training in dentistry that has an overlap with the justice system. So in simple words, as a dentist you learn how to obtain, analyse and present dental evidence.


Forensic Odontology in India:

Forensic odontology is a well-developed discipline. It is widely accepted in the courts of many well developed nations.Though Forensic Odontology is still a nascent stage in India, it has been utilised for extremely important cases. These cases include:

·       Nirbhaya 2012 (do watch Delhi Crime on Netflix), 

·       Sheena Bora case 2012. 

It has been utilised in Disaster Victim Identifications (DVI) of Tsunamis and air crashes.

In India development of Forensic odontology has been slow. Police and judicial officials are still to be properly sensitised about the scope and utility of forensic dentistry.

Indo-Pacific Academy of Forensic Odontology (INPAFO) and Indian Association of Forensic Odontology (IAFO) are 2 active registered societies in India

Study or Train in Forensic Dentistry in India.

For becoming an expert in forensic odontology, dentists should be equipped in:

·       current field methods in investigating crime scenes, 

·       Human Identification in natural disasters (man-made and natural) and human atrocities, 

·       laboratory procedures (like DNA analysis), 

·       legal and ethical issues

all in an Indian context of course.

Forensic Dentistry presently as an academic course in BDS is part of Oral Pathology (III year) and Oral Medicine (IV Year) curriculum. It is yet to achieve a separate subject status as a subject.  Loads of research Is happening in the form thesis and dissertations of MDS trainings. Part time and full time courses in Forensic odontology are being offered in the entire country. In fact, there are many certificate programs and diploma courses on Forensic Dentistry across medical / dental colleges in India. 

Few of the universities and associations offering courses / fellowships on forensic odontology are: 

·       Indian dental association (IDA), 

·       Indian association of forensic odontology (IAFO), 

·       SDM Dharwad, 

·       DY Patil university, 

·       Gujrat university, 

·       Mysore university, 

·       Manipal university,

·       Peoples university 

Also read: Indian Board of Forensic Odontology fellowship

Scope of Forensic Odontology in India:

Very few internationally trained Forensic odontologist are present. Hence if you are trained well you can be involved in academics, research and teaching forensic odontology. One can find job openings in Forensic odontology now and then. 

A typical medical board to estimate age includes a general physician, a dentist, a radiologist and a forensic expert hence defines its scope in age estimation. 

Forensic Facial Approximation Training (FACES) at Tubingen University (Germany)

The subject experts can be involved in forensic cases as well Forensic Facial Reconstructions. 

Also read:Inclusion of Forensic Odontologist in Team of Forensic Facial Approximation

As the record keeping of dentists is being reinforced by govt policies the scope too of the subject is increasing in leaps and bound. But still long way to go as far as employment opportunities are concerned.

Wishing for a crime free and peaceful world...

Chasing Bites with Bytes ;)

There cant be more grotesque evidence than bite on a victim of a murder or a rape which was hard enough to produce an injury...