Bitemarksaredefinedasaninjuryinskincausedby contact from teeth which shows the representational pattern of the oral structures. This is stated in the American board of forensic Odontology bite mark terminology guidelines (1995). Identification of bite marks is achieved by the comparison of the presumption that each indentation is unique and that the feature has been accurately transformed to the bite mark. It is crucial to determine if the bite mark is human or animal and if the bite is an adult or a child’s bite.
This is especially important in child abuse cases to differentiate between parental abuse or that of a family pet. In adults, the intercanine distance is usually over 30mm, and in children it is usually less than 30mm. (On average over 4. 4mm smaller intercanine distance than in adults) Rawson et al (1984) had a test group of 397 adults and found that the average intercanine distance varied between 21. 3 and 41mm, in comparison Bernstein (2005) found that in children between the ages of 3 and 6 had an intercanine distance of 28-29mm.
Due to this, it shows that it isn’t a reliable method of identification by itself. It was found that dental maturity was usually reached between the ages of 12 and 14. This makes human identification of human bite marks difficult. Animal canines are normally much easier to compare to human canines, this is due to the length and shape of the canines. Bite marks vary; this may be differences such as children’s teeth, e. g. smaller, rounder, bow like arches and larger spacing between teeth.
Documentation of bite marks is crucial, this is done by photographic evidence, and the distortion in this method must be kept to a minimum as unsatisfactory evidence will be disregarded in a court of law. Appropriate scale provided by the British association of forensic Odontology (BAFO) without the correct usage of this scale evidence will become void.
Saliva swabs (If available) are valuable and reliable evidence. Bite mark impressions (when possible to retrieve) are very reliable sources of evidence. Reconstruction of indentations allows for more reliable, efficient evidence, normally comprised of 3D reproduction and moulds, these methods will show any individual characteristics such as fillings, broken or chipped, tooth wear, missing or unequal teeth. The most famous bite mark case to date was the case involving Ted Bundy.
Ted Bundy was a serial killer, executed by electric chair in 1989, not before confessing to the brutal murders of over 30 women, the precise number is still unknown to this day. Bundy confessed to subjecting his victims (all white females) to blunt force trauma to the skull, strangulation, many decapitated, bite marks to the breasts and buttocks, rape and necrophilia. Along with other evidence, the obvious “holy grail” of bite marks found on the breasts and buttocks was a major factor in the capturing and sentencing of Ted Bundy.
Advantages of bite mark analysis include further evidence towards a court case, if the suspect has unique characteristics and dental history it is more likely that a positive match will be found. As the technology advances e. g. 3D reproduction, moulds, as does its standing in courts of law . Disadvantages of bite mark analysis include the fact that a person cannot be sentenced solely on bite marks and X-ray evidence unlike DNA evidence which is much concrete evidence.
The impression that bite marks are completely accurate is widely forced in court rooms when this is not the case. Skin is not a good medium for dental impressions, position, stretching of the area bitten and the environment that the bite is exposed to.
Bite mark analysis has been used since 1870; the first published account of this was in the case Doyle Vs State in 1954. This case was settled over the indentations left in a piece of cheese left at the crime scene. Since then, the technology has progressed to 3D reproduction, the materials to make accurate moulds of teeth and to retrieve wax models of indentations from skin, food or even chewing gum, also detailed X-rays which are held on dentistry records and databases. So throughout the development of bite mark analysis, of the methods have become a lot more recognised and reliable.