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Forensic Sci Int. 2012 Mar 10;216(1-3):68-72. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.08.019. Epub 2011 Sep 25.

Dental age assessment of southern Chinese using the United Kingdom Caucasian reference dataset.

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Paediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, Prince Philip Dental Hospital, Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong, 34 Hospital Road, Hong Kong.


Dental age assessment is one the most accurate methods for estimating the age of an unknown person. Demirjian's dataset on a French-Canadian population has been widely tested for its applicability on various ethnic groups including southern Chinese. Following inaccurate results from these studies, investigators are now confronted with using alternate datasets for comparison. Testing the applicability of other reliable datasets which result in accurate findings might limit the need to develop population specific standards. Recently, a Reference Data Set (RDS) similar to the Demirjian was prepared in the United Kingdom (UK) and has been subsequently validated. The advantages of the UK Caucasian RDS includes versatility from including both the maxillary and mandibular dentitions, involvement of a wide age group of subjects for evaluation and the possibility of precise age estimation with the mathematical technique of meta-analysis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the applicability of the United Kingdom Caucasian RDS on southern Chinese subjects. Dental panoramic tomographs (DPT) of 266 subjects (133 males and 133 females) aged 2-21 years that were previously taken for clinical diagnostic purposes were selected and scored by a single calibrated examiner based on Demirjian's classification of tooth developmental stages (A-H). The ages corresponding to each stage of tooth developmental stage were obtained from the UK dataset. Intra-examiner reproducibility was tested and the Cohen kappa (0.88) showed that the level of agreement was 'almost perfect'. The estimated dental age was then compared with the chronological age using a paired t-test, with statistical significance set at p<0.01. The results showed that the UK dataset, underestimated the age of southern Chinese subjects by 0.24 years but the results were not statistically significant. In conclusion, the UK Caucasian RDS may not be suitable for estimating the age of southern Chinese subjects and there is a need for an ethnic specific reference dataset for southern Chinese.

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