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International Poster Journal of Dentistry and Oral Medicine



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Int Poster J Dent Oral Med 7 (2005), No. 3     15. Sep. 2005

Int Poster J Dent Oral Med 2005, Vol 7 No 03, Poster 280

The Odontological Identification of the Unknown Bodies

Language: English

Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Claus Grundmann
Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Klaus Rötzscher
German Academy of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology

8th Cross Channel Conference by the Royal Belgian Society of Forensic Medicine
22.-25. April 2004
Brugges, Belgium


The examination of the causality and cause of death in cases of unnatural death including non-identified people is ordered by the public prosecutor (§ 159 StPO). Inquest and autopsy belong to the code of criminal procedure (§ 87 StPO). The identification of the bodies has to be done before the autopsies begin (§ 88 StPO). Fingerprints, measurements and photos for the police records department are ruled by law (§ 81b StPO).


The identification of the two bodies by taking fingerprints was impossible (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1

Both, driver and passenger - burned beyond recognition - it was supposed they concern to be some special people (Fig. 2a and b).

Fig. 2a Fig. 2b

Material and Methods

The odontological section begins by opening the lips to remove the jaws (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3

The exarticulation of the jaws using oscillating saws (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4

The removal of the upper jaw follows the Le Fort-I-osteotomy (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5

Afterwards the jaws are macerated by enzyme "Enzyrim" (Fig. 6).

Fig. 6

The methods of maceration used so far seem to be imperfect (toxic, offensive smelling, difficult to clean up). The use of enzyme for maceration accelerates the catalytic process enormous. This method is cheap, easy to handle, non-toxic and easy to clean up. The procedure at all needs only two hours (3).

The ultrasonic appliance works with 35.000 Hertz. The water should be heated for two hours up to 60 degrees Celsius. Per litre water 10 ml washing powder and 20 ml Enzyrim are added (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7

For one people orthodontic plaster casts could be used (Fig. 8).

Fig. 8

Comparison of the lower jaw with the plaster cast of the first body (Fig. 9).

Fig. 9

A-M x-rays and A-M dental records existed from the second person (Fig.10).

Fig. 10

Comparison of the OPG with the upper jaw of the second body (Fig. 11).

Fig. 11

The results are transferred to the P-M-DVI-Form together with the information where the victim (house, car, boat aeroplane, train etc,) was found at the time of the event (Fig. 12).

Fig. 12

If the idenditiy cannot be solved within two weeks, publications follow in the dental journals as "Rheinisches Zahnärzteblatt" or "Zahnärztliche Mitteilung".


The characteristics of the presented samples were the extrem carbonization of two bodies with orthodontic treatment. The permanent first praemolars of the upper and lower jaws were extracted. The gaps had been closed by orthodontic apparatures.


The expertness leads to conclusions. Positive identification of burned bodies by dental radiological and morphological methods is possible (4). The results are transferred to the P-M-DVI-Form (Fig.12) together with the information where the victim (house, car, boat, aeroplane, train etc.) was found at the time of the event. If the identity cannot be solved within two weeks publications follow in the dental journals as Rheinisches Zahnärzteblatt or Zahnärztliche Mitteilungen.


  1. Andersen L, Juhl M, Solheim T, Borrman H (1995) Odontological identification of fire victims - potentialities and limitations. Int J Leg Med 107: 229-234
  2. Benthaus S, Teige K (1998) Ist die Identifikation stark verbrannter Leichen aussichtslos? Arch Kriminol 201, ½: 31-38
  3. Grundmann C, Rötzscher K (2000) Autopsy techniques in the orofacial area and maceration using Enzyrim. J Forensic Odontostomatol, Vol 18, No.1: 19-21
  4. Rötzscher K (2000) Forensische Zahnmedizin, Kap. Identifikation, Thermische Einflüsse. Springer Heidelberg Berlin, S. 155-156


A-M / P-M = Antemortem / Post-mortem
StPO = Strafprozessordnung = code of criminal procedure

This Poster was submitted by Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Klaus Rötzscher.

Correspondence address:
Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Klaus Rötzscher
German Academy of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology
Wimphelingstr. 7
67346 Speyer/Rhein