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Age Estimation by Pulp/Tooth Ratio in Canines by Peri-Apical X-Rays

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Estimation of age in individuals has received considerable attention in forensic science, in which it is a widely used method for individual identification, together with paleo-demographic analyses to establish mortality patterns in past populations. The present investigation, which is a continuation of a previously published pilot study, was conducted to examine the possible application of the pulp/tooth area ratio by peri-apical images as an indicator of age at death. A total of 200 peri-apical X-rays of upper and lower canines were assembled from 57 male and 43 female skeletons of Caucasian origin, aged between 20 and 79 years. They belong to the Frassetto osteological collection of Sassari (Sardinia) and are housed in the Museum of Anthropology, Department of Experimental and Evolutionistic Biology, University of Bologna. For each skeleton, dental maturity was evaluated by measuring the pulp/tooth area ratio on upper (x1) and lower (x2) canines. Very good agreement was found between intraobserver measurements. Statistical analysis was performed in order to obtain multiple regression formulae for dental age calculation, with chronological age as dependent variable, and gender, and upper and lower canines as independent variables. Stepwise regression analysis showed that gender did not contribute significantly to the fit (p=0.881) whereas variables x1 and x2 and the first-order interaction between them did. These two variables explained 92.5% of variations in estimated chronological age and the residual standard error was 4.06 years. Lastly, two simple linear regression equations were obtained for age estimation using canines from the maxilla and mandible separately. Both models explained 86% of variations in estimated chronological age and allowed an age-at-death estimate with a residual standard error of about 5.4 years.
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Keywords: age determination; dental pulp; forensic odontology; forensic science; pulp/tooth area; stepwise linear regression

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Macerata, Via Don Minzoni 9, 62100 Macerata, Italy. 2: Institute of Biochemical Biotechnologies, Faculty of Medicine, Polytechnical University of the Marches, Via Ranieri 65, 60100 Ancona, Italy. 3: Laboratory of Anthropology, Department of Experimental and Evolutionistic Biology, University of Bologna,Via Selmi 3, 40126 Bologna, Italy.

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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