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Ultraviolet Illumination as an Adjunctive Aid in Dental Inspection

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Tooth-colored resin fillings have become increasingly popular as restorative materials. Their presence in the dentition presents a challenge to the clinician and the forensic odontologist, as detection of the fillings can be difficult both visually and radiographically. As they necessarily form part of the unique dentition of an individual, recognition of the resins is important for forensic identification. Alternative light sources have been used with success in various fields of forensic science. In recent years small LED flashlights emitting at specific wavelengths in the ultraviolet light (UV) range have been developed. Their low cost, small size, and ready availability makes their use practical in both forensic dental inspection and clinical settings. UV inspection is of interest because enamel, dentin and dental materials all have differing fluorescent properties when illuminated by UV light. It was one goal of this research to quantitatively assess the fluorescence properties of modern restorative resins in order to predict their behavior during inspection using UV illumination. The second goal was to demonstrate practical use of UV in dental inspection with examples of how different materials fluoresce. Quantitative measurements were obtained for optical emission wavelength and intensity for 15 modern resins using a spectrophotometer. Results indicated that resin brands fluoresce at different wavelengths and with varying intensities. Practical use and comparison of the flashlights revealed that the most useful excitation wavelengths for resin detection were in the UVA range (365 and 380 nm). Porcelain restorations and composite resin fillings exhibited different responses to these two wavelengths and thus use of both is recommended for forensic dental inspection.
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Keywords: fluorescence spectroscopy; forensic odontology; forensic science; restorative composite resins; ultraviolet light

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratory for Forensic Odontology Research, School of Dental Medicine, SUNY at Buffalo, B1 Squire Hall, S. Campus, Buffalo, NY 14214.

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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