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Written by John Berketa

  • Title: Dental Implant changes following incineration
  • Authors: JW Berketa, H James, V Marino

Abstract: Non-visual identification of victims utilizes DNA, fingerprint and dental comparison as primary scientific identifiers. In incidents where a victim has been incinerated, there may be loss of fingerprint detail and denaturing of DNA. Although extremely durable, tooth loss will also occur with extreme temperatures and the characteristics of recovered dental implants, if any, may be the only physical identifying data available.

Currently, there are no experimental investigations to determine what changes occur to dental implants following high temperature exposure. A selection of dental implants was radiographed, utilizing purpose built apparatus to allow standard methodology. They were then heated in an INFI-TROL™ kiln to a maximum temperature of 1125ºC and the radiographic procedure repeated.

Image subtraction evaluation of the radiographs was recorded using Adobe® Photoshop®. Both commercially pure titanium and titanium alloy dental implants survived the incineration and there was oxidation of the surface leading to minor alteration of the image. There was, however, no detectable sagging of the implants. The results of this research suggest that dental implants are still recognizable following incineration. In scenarios commonly seen by forensic odontologists, heat will destroy both teeth and conventional dental restorative materials. Implants, however, will resist these conditions and will also retain the features necessary to identify the type of implant.