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Int J Legal Med. 2005 Jan;119(1):22-6. Epub 2004 Nov 6.

Validation of common classification systems for assessing the mineralization of third molars.

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Institute of Legal Medicine (Charité), Humboldt University of Berlin, Hannoversche Strasse 6, 10115 Berlin, Germany.


One major criterion for dental age estimation is the evaluation of third molar mineralization. There are various methods for evaluating tooth mineralization based on classification by stages. The aim of the present work is to assess the validity of the common classification systems. To this end, we analyzed 420 conventional orthopantomograms of German females aged 12-25 years old. The mineralization status of tooth 38 was determined using the stages defined by Gleiser and Hunt, Demirjian et al., Gustafson and Koch, Harris and Nortje and Kullman et al., respectively. Of the methods tested, the most accurate results were obtained with Demirjian et al.'s classification system, which performed best not only for observer agreement but also for the correlation between estimated and true age. It is argued that this is due to the fact that Demirjian et al.'s classification is based on a sufficient number of stages which are defined independently of speculative estimations of length. This leads to the conclusion that the method devised by Demirjian et al. should be used for evaluating the mineralization of third molars for purposes of forensic age determination.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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