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International Poster Journal of Dentistry and Oral Medicine



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Int Poster J Dent Oral Med 13 (2011), No. 3     15. Sep. 2011

Int Poster J Dent Oral Med 2011, Vol 13 No 3, Poster 542


A contribution of the German Academy of Forensic Odontostomatology

Language: English

Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Claus Grundmann,
Municipality of Duisburg, Public Health Office, Duisburg, Germany
Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Klaus Rötzscher,
AKFOS, Speyer, Germany
Dr. med. dent. Klaus-Peter Benedix,
Bundeswehr, München, Germany
Dr. med. Hubert Lamberti,
Bundeswehr, Andernach, Germany

23 et 24 Septembre 2010
AFIO Association Française d'Identification Odontologique XXème Congrès de l'A.F.I.O.
Dijon – Cellier de Clairvaux


Most citizens in Germany frequent their dentists in more or less distances of time and their dental status is documented by dental records, including also x-rays. The registration of the visits of the armed forces, i.e. "Deutsche Bundeswehr", are also documented . Nevertheless it happens that criminalists are not successful in identifying dead bodies using the mentioned three scientific methods (DNA, fingerprints and dental documents). The publication of dental data in dental journals as the "Zahnärztliche Mitteilungen" or "Rheinisches Zahnärzteblatt" are often without wanted success. Three samples show the support by the "Institut für Wehrmedizinalstatistik und Berichtswesen der Bundeswehr, Andernach (WehrMedStatInstBW)" to give dead bodies their names they had during life-time.

Material and Methods

Case 1:
A man was killed by a train by suicide. The identification of the person was extremly difficult, because no DNA, ante-mortem fingerprints and dental records existed. The criminalists contacted the "WehrMedStatInstBW", but the difference after the end of his time as soldier and the date of suicid (more than 20 years) did not allow the use of the existing dental records. Too much treatments afterwards, i.e. extractions of teeth in the upper jaw were done. In opposite the comparison of ante- and post-mortem x-rays of the lateral teeth (molars and premolars) of the left and right lower jaw (Fig. 1-4) lead to the exact identification of the unknown person treated at the Bundeswehr decades ago and was killed by a train.

Fig. 1: Lower right jaw: Teeth 47, 46, 45 and 43 (ante-mortem) Fig. 2: Lower left jaw: Teeth 36, 37 and 38 (ante-mortem)
Fig. 3: Lower right jaw: Teeth 47, 46, 45 and 43 (post-mortem) Fig. 4: Lower left jaw: Teeth 36, 37 and 38 (post-mortem)

Case 2:
In a forest a completely decomposed male dead body was found by walkers. The upper and the lower jaws were macerated and examined by a forensic dentist. Also in this case the suspicion existed, that it may be the since some weeks as missing registered person (Fig. 7: macerated upper jaw and Fig. 8: macerated lower jaw: conserved by surgical and conservative treatments).
Usable DNA or fingerprints did not exist. The relatives of the dead body gave the criminalists the address of a "home"-dentist, who unfortunately did not use a correct record except the information about "filling of tooth 26 (occlusal-distal) and extraction of tooth 46" (Fig. 5). These information are not specific and they are unable as identification evidence. The criminalists contacted the "WehrMedStatInstBW" and received the dental records for identification (Fig. 6). The comparison of the record archived at the Bundeswehr (Fig. 7 and 8: "red") – in combination with the information of the "home"-dentist (Fig. 7 and 8: "blue") lead to the exact correspondence with the upper and lower jaw of the deceased male dead body.

Fig. 5: Dental record of the "home"-dentist: "filling of tooth 26 (occlusal-distal) and extraction of tooth 46" Fig. 6: Dental record of the "WehrMedStatInstBW"
Fig. 7: macerated upper jaw: conserved by conservative treatments Fig. 8: macerated lower jaw: conserved by surgical and conservative treatments

Case 3:
A since more than 30 years non-identified drowned corps was compared with the existing list of missing persons. It was registered, that a person exist, at the same time announced as missing and not be found. To receive a definitive result after 30 years the "WehrMedStatInstBW" was contacted again to clear whether unknown records were send to the Institute to be archived. Indeed further dental documents were found and examined by the expert. As the result of the examination it could be stated that the dead body, recovered 30 years ago in the river Rhine, was now identified. By order of the court the corps was exhumed (Fig. 9). The figure show that the dental records with the help of the "WehrMedStatInstBW" allowed the definite identification of the 30 years unknown body (Fig. 10).

Fig. 9: macerated upper and lower jaw: conserved by surgical, conservative and prothetic treatments
Fig. 10: macerated upper jaw: conserved by surgical and conservative treatments


The know-how about 20 years of dental experts in identification cases shows, that unknown dead bodies were identified by the "WehrMedStatInstBW", when no or no exact dental records exist.
Over long-time safe-keeping archives of medical and dental records (up to the end of the 90th year of the soldiers) by the institute "WehrMedStatInstBW" allow -also after years- the comparison with post-mortem findings and may lead to the identification of unknown dead bodies. We recommend to contact the institute in those cases.


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  3. Grundmann C, Rötzscher K (2005) The Odontological Identification of the Unknown Bodies. Int Poster J Dent Oral Med (IPJ), Vol 7, No 03, Poster 280
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This Poster was submitted by Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Claus Grundmann.

Correspondence address:
Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Claus Grundmann
Municipality of Duisburg, Public Health Office
Ruhrorter Straße 195
D-47119 Duisburg