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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 13-17

Forensic odontology acquaintance among the students of a dental institution in Mysore City, India


1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, JSS Dental College and Hospital, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara University, Mysuru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, JSS Dental College and Hospital, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara University, Mysuru, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, JSS Dental College and Hospital, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara University, Mysuru, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication26-Apr-2017

Correspondence Address:
Sushma Rudraswamy
Department of Public Health Dentistry, JSS Dental College and Hospital, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara University, Mysuru, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijfo.ijfo_7_17

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  Abstract 

Background: Forensic odontology utilizes the dentist's knowledge to serve the judicial system. It has itself as an important indispensable science in medicolegal matters and in particular in personal identification, gender determination, and age estimation. It plays an important role in mass disasters, child abuse, bioterrorism, etc. Taken together, forensic dentistry has become one of valuable tools worldwide to be used in identification processes.
Objective: To evaluate the knowledge about forensic odontology among the students of a dental institution.
Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted among final year, interns, and postgraduate students of JSS Dental College and Hospital, Mysuru. A self-administered, structured questionnaire written in English and validated through a pilot survey was given to all available and willing student participants. Questionnaire included significance of dental records, dental age estimation, identification of child abuse and individuals bite marks, as a witness in the court, lip prints along with the demographic data.
Results: In the present study, 67% of the participants responded that DNA comparison was the most accurate method for person identification. About 27.3% responded tooth dimension and tooth morphology was the most accurate method of dental age estimation in elderly. Moreover, 89.1% reported their present knowledge level/awareness about forensic dentistry was not adequate.
Conclusion: Forensic odontology must be introduced into the BDS curriculum effectively as a separate subject so that the students get well acquainted with the required knowledge for handling the medicolegal cases in their future practice.

Keywords: Acquaintance, awareness, dental students, forensic dentistry, forensic odontology, knowledge


How to cite this article:
Rudraswamy S, Doggalli N, Chandrashekar B R, Manjunath M, Sreeshyla H S. Forensic odontology acquaintance among the students of a dental institution in Mysore City, India. Int J Forensic Odontol 2017;2:13-7

How to cite this URL:
Rudraswamy S, Doggalli N, Chandrashekar B R, Manjunath M, Sreeshyla H S. Forensic odontology acquaintance among the students of a dental institution in Mysore City, India. Int J Forensic Odontol [serial online] 2017 [cited 2017 Oct 17];2:13-7. Available from: http://www.ijofo.org/text.asp?2017/2/1/13/205255


  Introduction Top


The new millennium has brought many good things in our lives, for example, a boom in telecommunication and information technology (teledentistry), digitalization, etc., but it has also brought new challenges of terrorism, natural disasters, and high rate of crime.[1] Likelihood of such disasters and crimes in the past, most recent, and present require the dental profession to prepare for an expanded role and also have adequate awareness concerning the importance of forensic dentistry.

The term forensic dentistry is used interchangeably with forensic odontology. Forensic odontology has been defined by the Federation Dentaire Internationale (FDI) as “that branch of dentistry which, in the interest of justice, deals with the proper handling and examination of dental evidence, and with the proper evaluation and presentation of dental findings.”[2]

Forensic odontology utilizes the dentist's knowledge to serve the judicial system. It has established itself as an important indispensable science in medicolegal matters and in particular in personal identification, gender determination, and age estimation. It emphasizes on comparing antemortem and postmortem dental records and depends on the unique features visible on dental radiographs to identify victims of crimes or accidents. It plays an important role in mass disasters (terrorist attacks, earthquakes, and tsunamis), child/adult/spouse abuse, bite mark analysis, criminal/natural deaths and injuries, bioterrorism, etc., It also helps in identification of decomposed and charred bodies like that of drowned persons, burns, and victims of motor vehicle accidents. There are several reliable alternative methods of establishing identity such as cheiloscopy, bite marks, rugoscopy, tooth prints, photograph analysis, molecular methods (DNA extraction) and biometrics analysis.[3] Taken together, forensic dentistry has become one of valuable tools worldwide to be used in identification processes. In recent times, forensic odontology has evolved as a new ray of hope in assisting forensic medicine.[4]

Much of its expertise is based on clinical experience, fundamental research, and advances in knowledge in relation to dentistry in general. The dentist with special knowledge is the only one who can connect and evaluate all the skeletal/dental discoveries in a meticulously detailed way and with irreproachable scientific documentation that requires legal science in the resolution of problems.

With this background, the present study attempts to assess and also create awareness on the importance of forensic odontology implications among the students of a dental institution.

Aim and objectives

The aim of the present study is to assess and create awareness on the importance of forensic odontology implications among the students of a dental institution.

Objective

To evaluate the knowledge about forensic odontology among the students of a dental institution.


  Methodology Top


A cross-sectional study will be conducted among students of a dental institution. A self-administered, structured questionnaire written in English and validated through a pilot survey werebe given to the students who gave their consent.

Pretesting of the questionnaire

Questionnaire was administered to a panel of three academicians and a convenience sample of 18 participants twice on successive days who were interviewed to gain feedback on the overall acceptability of the questionnaire in terms of length, language clarity, time, and feasibility of participants completing and returning it. Cronbach's coefficient ranged from 0.44 to 1.00.

Questionnaire included methods of person identification, dental age estimation of children and elderly, gender determination of individual and deceased, identification of child abuse and action taken against the same, bite marks, lip prints, any formal training, and present awareness about forensic dentistry and as a witness in the court.

All available and willing participants were given the questionnaire on the day of visit by investigator. Participants were asked to respond to each item in the questionnaire by choosing the most appropriate option. Confidentiality and anonymity of the respondents were assured.

The data thus collected were retrieved and were amiable to statistical analysis using SPSS software version 22 (IBM, Inc). Descriptive statistics such as percentages, frequencies, and inferential statistics were applied for data analysis.


  Results Top


Study participants comprised 183 dental students of an institution (87 undergraduates, 61 interns, and 35 postgraduate students).

In the present study, 67% of the participants responded that DNA comparison was the most accurate method for person identification. About 63.4% of study participants said dental age estimation in childhood can be assessed with eruption pattern. Nearly 27.3% responded tooth dimension and tooth morphology was the most accurate method of dental age estimation in elderly.

With respect to gender identification method, 74.3% of participants replied the option all which included intercanine arch width, frontal sinus, and width/height of ramus. Moreover, 46.4% answered DNA examination was the most accurate method for gender identification among the deceased.

When asked how is physical/neglective/sexual/psychological abuse of a child is identified, 48.1% stated by behavioral changes. On identifying signs or symptoms of child abuse, 32.2% reported that they would counsel child.

Nearly 33.9% replied their source of knowledge regarding forensic dentistry was as a subject in college. This was statistically significant. About 76.5% had no formal training in collecting, evaluating, and presenting dental evidence. Moreover, 89.1% reported their present knowledge level/awareness about forensic dentistry was not adequate.

Nearly 86.9% were aware that dentist can testify as an expert witness in the court to present forensic dental evidence [Table 1],[Table 2],[Table 3],[Table 4],[Table 5],[Table 6],[Table 7],[Table 8].
Table 1: Distribution of study participants according to their responses on the most accurate method of person identification

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Table 2: Distribution of study participants according to their responses on the most accurate method of dental age estimation

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Table 3: Distribution of study participants according to their responses on the most accurate method of gender identification

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Table 4: Distribution of study participants according to their responses on identifying of child abuse and actions they would take against the same

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Table 5: Distribution of study participants according to their responses on source of knowledge regarding forensic dentistry

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Table 6: Distribution of study participants according to their responses if they had any formal training and their present knowledge level/awareness about forensic dentistry was adequate

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Table 7: Distribution of study participants according to their responses on awareness if dentist can testify as an expert witness in the court to present forensic dental evidence

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Table 8: Distribution of study participants according to their responses on awareness if dentist can testify as an expert witness in the court to present forensic dental evidence

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  Discussion Top


Literature search shows poor knowledge and awareness about forensic odontology among dental students and has reported that there is an urgent need to train and educate all the students, to do efficient forensic practice. A chain is as strong as the weakest link in it, thus the entire team involved in forensic practice at some point or the other should be trained properly.

Before providing the training program, it is mandatory to understand the existing gaps and deficiencies in the study participants' knowledge and perceptions toward forensic odontology. With this background, the present study was carried out to assess and create awareness on the importance of forensic odontology implications among the students of a dental institution.

The present survey indicates that dental students (89.1%) have a lack of awareness about forensic odontology. This is mainly because of inadequate exposure in the field of forensic dentistry and lack of practical exposure to forensic cases.

Age is one of the essential factors in establishing the identity of a person. Estimation of the human age is a procedure adopted by anthropologists, archaeologists, and forensic scientists. Though 76.5% of the subjects claim to have not undergone a formal training in dental evidence, it is not surprising to see that 37.5% of the dental students did not know how to estimate the dental age; whereas in another study, 41% of dental students did not know how to estimate the age. Majority of students did not know the most accurate method of gender determination. The reasons for this could be multifactorial, either their ignorance or lack of basic knowledge or lack of confidence in answering this question, apart from not knowing the significance of dental age with regard to forensics.

A study conducted by Gopal and Gayathri [5] among undergraduate and postgraduate dental students to evaluate the knowledge and attitude about forensic odontology indicated that only two-thirds of dental students had adequate knowledge. This was mainly because of inadequate exposure to subject in the field of forensic dentistry, less importance given to the subject in the curriculum, and lack of practical exposure to forensic cases.

Knowledge, attitude, and approach of forensic odontology among dental practitioners in Pune were analyzed.[6] Results showed inadequate knowledge, poor attitude, and lack of practice pertaining to record keeping or clinical knowledge of forensic odontology prevailing among the dental practitioners. Nagarajappa et al.[7] in their study assessed the knowledge, attitude, and practice of forensic odontology among dental practitioners in Kanpur city and revealed adequate knowledge and good attitude. Lack of practice in maintaining dental records for longer time was observed among majority of the study participants.

Sharma et al.,[8] in their study on knowledge, attitude, and practice of forensic odontology among private dental practitioners in Ghaziabad city, reported inadequate knowledge, poor attitude, and lack of practice pertaining to patient's dental record maintenance and clinical knowledge of forensic odontology among dental practitioners in Ghaziabad.

The aim of a study [9] was to analyze the knowledge, attitude, and practice of forensic odontology among dental practitioners in Chennai. This study revealed inadequate knowledge, poor attitude, and lack of practice of forensic odontology prevailing among the dental practitioners in Chennai.

In line with studies reported earlier, the observations of the present study indicate that there is lack of practice of forensic odontology among majority of the study participants.

This could be due to various reasons like there are no fully equipped laboratories for forensic odontology in India. The other reason could be their busy dental academics, which does not allow them an opportunity to probe deeper into the forensic odontology. Further, forensic odontology was not included as a part of the academic curriculum until recently.

In our study, MDS dental students presented better level of knowledge and awareness about forensic odontology than BDS dental students. Reason could be justified as majority of BDS dental students upgrade their knowledge related to forensic dentistry by books and internet while MDS dental students upgrade their knowledge through Continuing Dental Education (CDE), conferences, journals, and workshops which are more updated sources.


  Conclusion Top


Current worsening of the conditions due to increasing crime and human-made disasters has amplified the role of forensic odontology in identification of the victims. Hence, in the near future, forensic odontology must be introduced into the BDS curriculum effectively as a separate subject so that the students get well acquainted with the required knowledge for handling the medicolegal cases in their future practice.

The demand for accurate forensic investigation in India will increase the scope of this interesting science in the near future. We wish to conclude that for an efficient forensic investigation, a highly competent dental team should actively involve for a fruitful outcome.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Jurel SK. Role of dentist in forensic investigations. J Forensic Res 2012;3:148.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Acharya AB, Sivapathasundhararn B. Forensic Odontology. Shafer's Textbook of Oral Pathology. 5th ed. Elsevier India; 2006. p. 1199-227.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Sharma B. Forensic: At first sight. Ann Dent Spec 2014;2:59-63.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Chandra Shekar BR, Reddy CV. Role of dentist in person identification. Indian J Dent Res 2009;20:356-60.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
5.
Gopal SK, Gayathri PS. Knowledge and attitude about forensic odontology among undergraduate and postgraduate dental students. Indian J Forensic Med Toxicol 2015;9:93-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Harchandani N, Marathe S, Hebbale M, Ul Nisa S, Hiremutt D. Awareness of forensic odontology among general dental practitioners in Pune – A cross sectional study. J Adv Med Dent Sci Res 2014;2:10-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Nagarajappa R, Mehta M, Shukla N, Tuteja JS, Bhalla A. Awareness of forensic odontology among dental practitioners in Kanpur city, India: A KAP study. J Dent Res Updates 2014;1:6-12.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Sharma A, Shokeen S, Arora R, Dhaginakatti SA. Survey on knowledge, attitude and practice forensic odontology among private dental practitioners in Ghaziabad city, India. J Dent Specialities 2015;3:43-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Preethi S, Einstein A, Sivapathasundharam B. Awareness of forensic odontology among dental practitioners in Chennai: A knowledge, attitude, practice study. J Forensic Dent Sci 2011;3:63-6.  Back to cited text no. 9
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7], [Table 8]



 

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