Journal of Forensic Dental Sciences
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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 93-98

Effect of acids on the teeth and its relevance in postmortem identification

Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Bapuji Dental College, Davangere, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Kiran Jadhav
Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology, Bapuji Dental College & Hospital, Davangere, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-2948.60381

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Background: The nature of crime is changing day by day and the forensic scientist is always facing new problems in the process of identification. For example, difficult though it may be to believe, criminals are now-a-days using acids to destroy bodies in order to avoid any personal identification. This is a matter of great interest to the forensic scientist. Is it possible to destroy the human body completely in an acid? If so, are there any means to identify the body? Objectives: The aim of this study was to identify the agent (acid) that is most likely to be used in such crimes and to find out if the morphological changes in the teeth could be used to deduce the approximate duration of time elapsed after immersion of a body in an acid. Since the natural teeth are most resistant to destruction they can persist for long after other skeletal structures have been destroyed by physical agents. The objective of study was to observe the morphological changes occurring in natural human teeth when they were kept immersed in an acid solution. Materials and Methods: Teeth were kept in 25 ml of aqueous solutions of three different acids and observed periodically for morphological changes. Results: The results showed that teeth could be completely dissolved in 37% hydrochloric acid (HCl) after 15 h of immersion, whereas in 65% nitric acid 20 h was required for complete dissolution. In the case of 96% sulphuric acid, the teeth reacted in a different manner. There was a residual precipitate observed at the bottom of the container after 144 h. It was possible to identify the characteristic morphological changes in the tooth until an advanced stage of degradation. Conclusion: Hydrochloric acid, nitric acid and sulfuric acid cause changes in the teeth and it is possible to deduce the approximate duration for which a body has been immersed in acid based on the charges observed.

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