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A Test of the Differential Accuracy of the Maxillary Versus the Mandibular Dentition in Age Estimations of Immature Skeletal Remains Based on Developing Tooth Length

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Liversidge and colleagues developed a method for predicting the age of immature skeletal remains based on the length of developing teeth. This quantitative method combines dental data from both jaws, except for the permanent lateral incisor, and because there are reasons to suspect that these two types of data are not identical and should not be combined, it raises concerns regarding the accuracy of the technique when applied differently to each jaw. In this study, the differential accuracy of the method was test when applied to the maxillary and mandibular dentition. The test sample is comprised of 57 Portuguese subadult skeletons of known age at death. Results suggest an overall high consistency between estimates obtained from both jaws, but for the permanent dentition only. In the deciduous dentition the age estimates obtained from the maxillary teeth tend to be greater than the age estimates obtained from the mandibular pair, and the differences are significant for the incisors and canine. Additionally, ages obtained from the maxillary deciduous canine also differ significantly from true chronological age. In the permanent dentition there were no differences between the ages provided by both jaws but both the maxillary and mandibular second molars show a significant tendency to underestimate true chronological age. Although this study cannot validate completely the method presented by Liversidge and colleagues, it does provide an important test to its accuracy and calls for further research into its overall performance, particularly with respect to the results obtained from both jaws.

Keywords: age determination by teeth; deciduous dentition; forensic odontology; forensic science; permanent dentition; subadults; tooth length

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Departamento de Zoologia e Antropologia (Museu Bocage), Museu Nacional de História Natural, Rua da Escola Politécnica 58, 1269-102 Lisboa, Portugal.

Publication date: March 1, 2007


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