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Estimating Age in Maori, Pacific Island, and European Children from New Zealand

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The islands of New Zealand are populated by persons of European, Maori, and Pacific Island extraction. The purpose of this research is to quantify the levels of dental maturation of each of these three populations, in order to obtain data that will be useful in forensic identification and age estimation. The sample consisted of 1383 orthopantomographs (660 males, 723 females) of 477 Maori, 762 European, and 144 Pacific Island children between the ages of 3 and 14 years. Each radiograph was digitized and the stages of mineralization of the seven left mandibular permanent teeth were assessed using the eight stages described by Demirjian. Values for 1, 3, 5, 50, 95, 97, and 99% confidence intervals are listed for each maturity score. Intra-observer reliability was evaluated using Bland–Altman’s method on data from re-scoring one out of every 20 radiographs and standard dental maturation curves were constructed for the three populations by means of a quantile regression method. Despite the fact that quantile regression analysis showed that across the age group investigated there were differences between boys and girls, knowledge of the sex does not increase the accuracy of the age estimate, simply because the magnitude of the error of age estimation is greater than the difference between the sexes. Our analysis also shows that population divergence is most marked after the age of 9 years, with a peak difference seen at age 10.
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Keywords: Demirjian; dental maturity; forensic age estimation; forensic science

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Oral Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. 2: Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. 3: Department of Paediatric Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 2AD, UK.

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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