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J Am Dent Assoc. 2002 Nov;133(11):1508-13.

Identifying skeletal remains found in a sewer.

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Dental identification of skeletal remains frequently is accomplished via comparison of antemortem and postmortem radiographs. When dental radiographs are unavailable or of poor quality, the dentist may have to rely on other evidence such as study models, head and neck radiographs and anthropological examination results. The authors present a case report in which all of these modalities were used to identify skeletal remains.


The skeletal remains of a female adolescent found in a retention sewer were identified as those of a 14-year-old girl who had disappeared from her home one year earlier. The identification was based on anthropological findings, a comparison of antemortem and postmortem study models, and a comparison of antemortem and postmortem radiographs. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS; Dentists who are called on by local authorities to assist with the identification of skeletal remains must be familiar with ways in which dental comparisons can be made when periapical radiographs, bitewing radiographs or both are unavailable.

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