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Dental Morphology: The Informative but Lesser-Known Traits

Event Dates
Event Duration
1.5 Hours

Estimation of population affinity is a core component of the forensic anthropological biological profile. Most forensic anthropologists rely on craniometric1 and cranial macromorphoscopic2 methods in formulating this estimation. Dental morphology has traditionally been underutilized as a data source in forensic anthropology. There are few published studies employing dental morphological methods for population affinity,3,4 and more are in development. Methods currently published require that practitioners have significant experience scoring dental traits before they can be accurately applied. Most forensic anthropologists are familiar with shoveling of the central maxillary incisors and Carabelli’s trait of the maxillary first molars for their utility in population affinity estimations,5 though the reliance on these traits may be more based in tradition than in actual utility.6 However, because dental anthropology is not always part of the forensic anthropological education, fewer anthropologists are familiar or comfortable with less commonly known dental morphological traits, especially those of the molars.

This presentation will focus on 11 dental morphological traits of the maxillary and mandibular molars that can be useful in estimating population affinity. These traits are metacone, hypocone, metaconule, parastyle, protostylid, anterior fovea, deflecting wrinkle, enamel extensions, and mandibular cusps 5, 6, and 7. Easy to apply trait descriptions, examples, and any known global or regional population frequencies from published literature will be presented so attendees may incorporate these into their casework. We will discuss applying currently available methods for estimating population affinity and talk about new methods to be available in the near future.

After viewing the presentation practitioners will understand core concepts related to the application of dental morphology in the forensic estimation for population affinity. Practitioners also will be familiar with 11 dental morphological characteristics that are useful in estimating population affinity, but that are not commonly taught about in detail. Practitioners can then apply this knowledge in their casework using methods currently available.

Date Created: December 16, 2022