A short review of criminal justice research The signs and symptoms of tooth

Sometimes the tooth itself can be used as a means to identify its owner; a woman’s body with an unidentifiable face was found in one of Egypt’s cities. However, the artificial dentures in her mouth, when shown to a dentist, simplified the problem. Having realized his dentistry works one of the dentists identified the owner by going through his patients’ logbook.  Furthermore, the evidence of teeth biting in the victim’s body or any other bitten items is an indirect means of identification of the tooth’s owner. For instance, a thief at the time of an alleged robbery in a house, pick up an apple, a pear or a cucumber found in the room and take a bite into it. On hearing some sound the thief throws the beaten piece away and run out of the room. The biting evidence remains in the piece of apple bitten by the thief.

In Belgrade City, a burglar, after breaking into a house, picked up an apple from the plate on the table in the room and took a bite but threw it away when he heard some noise. He put the gold necklace there in his pocket and ran away. When the detective police arrived at the scene, he could not find any evidence other than the half-bitten piece of apple.  After examining it in detail, the police realized that two of the teeth of the person biting the apple had some defects. The police made double efforts and showed it to a couple of dentists in the city; eventually, one of the dentists succeeded in identifying the owner by tallying it with the denture frames available at his disposal. This led to the culprit’s arrest and his confession to the crime. Apart from helping in finding of evidence and being as a clear part of the human body, teeth also play significant role in documentation of unidentifiable dead bodies.  Clearly, every body’s tooth have individual and specific specifications, no two human beings carry similar teeth system and specifications, thus, making it impossible to mistake one human being with another. 

In this regard, I am presenting another example. In Germany, a burglar had left his teeth marks on an ‘apple’ which in fact was a decorative piece made of soap. He baited it because he assumed it was a real apple. He was eventually identified by the said evidence.

From criminal investigation point of view, the existence of important evidence as well as the fact that it can be utilized in documenting the unidentified dead bodies is considered very vital.   

Teeth are powerful biting weapons that are sometimes used as means of defense. They leave behind marks as follow:

  1. Superficial marks: They take the shape of teeth. They consist of small lining marks red or dark red in color.
  2. Deep marks: The size and dimensions of teeth could be measured by them.
  3. Cutting marks: They are matching to its original form in the flesh.  


Area of teeth evidence

Teeth evidences are found more in the areas that could easily be bitten - the neck, chest, hands, shoulders, arms etc. There have been cases, though, in which the person has bitten off parts of his opponent’s nose or ears.  The marks could also be found in edible stuffs such as fruits, cookies, butter, cheese, bread and things that can be bitten like candles, cloth, leather and some types of wood.

Teeth marks could, furthermore, be seen on the skins of the victims after they have been forcefully raped or sodomized. The marks are visible in the chest, thighs or around the genital areas. Teeth marks in other forms of crimes, such as theft from shops, could also be found in the fruits, cheese, and chocolate and so on if bitten.


How to use teeth marks

  1. The existence of teeth marks is indicating coercion, refusal, fight or resistance in the process when crimes being committed.
  2. These marks could be used to identify the assailants provided that the teeth do not bear some special form of defects in them.


The teeth of unidentifiable dead bodies can determine:

  1. Whether or not the owner has had an addiction to any alcoholic drinks or narcotics
  2. Whether or not the owner has been diabetic
  3. Whether or not the teeth are artificial
  4. Whether or not the teeth have pieces of flesh, hair or cloth in it

The findings above may have their best use in criminal investigations; teeth marks are first photographed and then used to tally them with the specifications of the accused.  

Nowadays, the tallying and comparing of the marks are performed with certain compounds available with the dentists. These compounds are first put in warm water to soften. Then the accused is asked to bite into it. The compound hardens quickly, leaving the teeth marks in it. It should not be forgotten that marks, in most cases, belong to front teeth. The compositions for the real and artificial teeth should carefully and separately be placed in special bags and sent to the laboratory. Given the sample teeth, the following could be said about broken, filled and gelded teeth. Other procedures of maintaining evidences such as cutting a specific portion of dead body tissue and extracting saliva probably available all around the bitten area are usually done by the doctor.


The remaining dust residue and its importance in criminal investigations

It is obvious that when a human being exists in and walks around in a specific area or when he does something there, he may absorb some dust particles from the surrounding on his clothes or with the objects in his hand. These particles are very specific to the place where the person has been to – his residence or his work place (a factory...). With a slight change in the temperature of the area, the said particles rise and then set on the person's clothes, personal belongings.  Moreover, the mentioned evidences get hardened on greasy surfaces; they could be seen well if the light beams are thrown into the dark room. These evidences are normally made of dirt, sand, some forms of metal (steel), thin threads, cement, flour….  Depending on the place the evidences are collected, these particles form different types of smudges or stains. For instance, the evidence sampled from a sandy area is different from the ones taken from a farm, a factory, a mill, a laboratory or…..  Criminal investigator realizes these details and studies the samples duly.  This way, he could also inspect the place frequented by the accused.    

When an offender rushes towards the crime scene, he also catches dust particles produced in the area. If the offender resides somewhere or works there, he carries along the dust particles of the mentioned areas. For example, if he works in a cement factory, a heater making plant, a steel mill, a tinsmith, a mill or some sort of reservoir, the dust particles coming from the working areas (wood, cement, metal, flour…) can be found in his clothing items.  This is the way to understand where the offender has come from.


Definition of dust residue

Dust residue is a dried and thin form of material composed of two elements:

  1. Plant and animal elements
  2. Mineral elements

Some scientists have said that dust residues are microscopic particles that are easily scattered in the air due to their minute sizes. From the forensics point of view, every particle, apart from its own mass, may include other particles such as sawdust, other items’ particles, hair strand, feather, plants etc. 


The importance of dust particles from the forensics point of view

As mentioned earlier, the dust particle obtained from the offender’s clothing items, shoes, hair, under nails, weapon or other handheld tools, are extremely important in determining whether or not the offender has been to a specific place or done a particular act. Based on the criminal investigators’ experience by dust particles, one could understand the offender’s line of work to some extent; for instance, the sawdust particles obtained from the sawing workers and the stone dust particles obtained from the carpentry worker may telltale their said line of work. In addition, if a person spends a little of his time in a place where fruits, vegetables, flour … are bagged, the dust particles with him, if examined, may be indicative of his whereabouts.

Very likely that evidence of dust particles and dirt or grease stains remain with the offender. Thus, it is very important to pay attention to these evidences while investigating any crime – this is of particular importance when it comes to the forensic investigation.

Evidences of dust particles, soil and dirt are most often mixed with particles such as tobacco, tiny sand grains, left over paper sheets, plantation particles, leftover food items or metal pieces. Such mixtures provide bigger chances of proving offences, because there are living microscopic elements in them as well, which play a significant role in documentation. For example, when evidences of dirt are found in the offender’s footwear, it then fruitfully helps determine whether or not he has frequented the crime scene. Umbrellas, sticks and other items as carriers of dust particles are also very important. While working with these items, one should also visualize how the crime could have been happening. Thus, it is important to know that dust particles may have set on the offender’s hair, nose, and ears or under his nails. It is also highly likely that the particles of assailant’s blood stain, skin tissues, hair strands … are found under victims’ nail while they were defending themselves in rape or murder cases. It should not be forgotten that such particles could also be found under the offenders’ nails.

Likewise, remaining evidences could be traced in the items left behind by the offenders, too.  Evidences of dirt and soil could be taken as important in traffic-related cases, as well.  It is possible that after two vehicles collide with one another, some dust particles of the runaway vehicle may still remain on the other vehicle or on the people involved. The experts have divided dust particles based on their regions as follows:


  1. Street dust: This consists of many mineral elements, but is less saturated with plant or animal elements. Such evidences could be traced in the feet, shoes, folded part and seams of trousers, car and bicycle tires. Such dust particles are especially important when they differ from the ones in a different area. This way a link is established between the offender and the crime scene.
  2. Residence-related dust: This type of dust comes from carpets and rugs; thin threads could be seen in them.
  3. Industry-related dust:  These evidences could be traced in construction and building paints as well as in the mills and warehouses. 
  4. Profession-related dust: These evidences are linked with the person’s professions. For example, evidences of chalk dust on teachers or students’ hands, evidences of salt and chemicals on laboratory workers’ hands, evidences of book dust on librarians’ hands and mine dust on miners’ bodies…..