Bones, Bitemarks and Body Identification: An Overview of Forensic Dentistry and Forensic Anthropology:

This seminar will introduce the participants to the principles underlying the forensic sciences as they relate to Odontology and Anthropology. Using case presentations, the odontologist will demonstrate how unidentified decedents are identified utilizing the dentition and how the anthropologist obtains a profile including sex, age and ancestry of skeletal remains. These decedents are not visually identifiable because they are charred, decomposed, skeletonized, mutilated or comingled. A positive scientific identification is needed for families to have emotional closure and for legal proof of death for insurance claims. Also, law enforcement agencies require a positive identification before they can begin their investigation.

Guidelines for the general dental practice as they relate to possible abuse (child and adult) will be presented along with bitemark analysis associated with sexually related crimes and homicides. Animal bitemarks will be shown comparing their dentition to human dentition in pattern type injuries. Mass fatality response will be discussed focusing particularly on 9/11, Katrina and various airline disasters.

Objective 1: The participants will gain an understanding of the underlying principles of forensic odontology (forensic dentistry) and forensic anthropology and how to analyze the comparison of antemortem and postmortem dental and anthropological radiographs for positive identification.

Objective 2: The participants will be aware of the reporting guidelines for the general dentist as they relate to possible child and adult abuse and understand the challenges of comparing a bitemark to a suspect.

Objective 3: The participants will understand the major objectives of a forensic anthropological examination of unknown human remains and examining chronic and acute child abuse in skeletal remains and aiding the medical examiner in assessing trauma or wounds on these decedents.

  • CE Credit: 3
  • Audience:
John Piakis

John Piakis, DDS, DABFO

Dr. Piakis is a board certified forensic odontologist and full time consultant for the Maricopa County Office of Medical Examiner. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a Diplomate in the American Board of Forensic Odontology. As a member of the federal mass fatality response team, he has responded to mass fatality events such as Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. He is also a consultant for various Maricopa County law enforcement agencies and has been in the practice of general dentistry for 35 years.

Laura Fulginiti

Laura Fulginiti, PhD, DABFA

Dr. Fulginiti is a board-certified forensic anthropologist at the Maricopa County Office of Medical Examiner. She has 30 years of experience in the identification of unknown human remains, trauma analysis and scene recovery. She works closely with the forensic odontologist. She is a member of the federal mass fatality response team and has responded to many mass fatality events including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 9/11 and airline crashes in Guam, Colorado and California.