Forensic age estimation in living subjects: the ethnic factor in wisdom tooth mineralization

Int J Legal Med. 2004 Jun;118(3):170-3. doi: 10.1007/s00414-004-0434-7. Epub 2004 Feb 6.


Radiological assessment of the mineralization stage of third molars is a major criterion for age estimation of living people involved in criminal proceedings. To date insufficient knowledge has been obtained about how the ethnic origin can influence tooth mineralization. A comparative study of wisdom tooth mineralization was carried out on three population samples: one German, one Japanese and one South African. To this end, 3,652 conventional orthopantomograms were evaluated on the basis of Demirjian's stages. The Japanese subjects were on average 1-2 years older than their German counterparts upon reaching stages D-F, whereas the South African subjects were on average 1-2 years younger than the Germans when displaying stages D-G. To enhance the accuracy of forensic age estimates based on wisdom tooth mineralization we recommend the use of population-specific standards.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Determination by Teeth / methods*
  • Age Factors
  • Asian People
  • Black People
  • Child
  • Female
  • Forensic Dentistry / methods
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Molar, Third / chemistry
  • Molar, Third / growth & development*
  • South Africa
  • Tooth Calcification*
  • White People