, Volume 118, Issue 3, pp 170-173
Date: 06 Feb 2004

Forensic age estimation in living subjects: the ethnic factor in wisdom tooth mineralization

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Radiological assessment of the mineralization stage of third molars is a major criterion for age estimation of living people involved in criminal proceedings. To date insufficient knowledge has been obtained about how the ethnic origin can influence tooth mineralization. A comparative study of wisdom tooth mineralization was carried out on three population samples: one German, one Japanese and one South African. To this end, 3,652 conventional orthopantomograms were evaluated on the basis of Demirjian’s stages. The Japanese subjects were on average 1–2 years older than their German counterparts upon reaching stages D–F, whereas the South African subjects were on average 1–2 years younger than the Germans when displaying stages D–G. To enhance the accuracy of forensic age estimates based on wisdom tooth mineralization we recommend the use of population-specific standards.