Individualization through Observation of the Characteristic of
Alveolar Bone of Edentulous Skulls
Reinaldy Octavianus Yan Dimpudus
, Eko Prastyo
and Myrtati Dyah Artaria
Forensic Science Study Program, Post Graduate Studies, Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya, Indonesia
The Department of Anthropology, FISIP, Universitas Airlangga, Jl. Airlangga 4-6 Surabaya 60286 Indonesia
Keywords: Individualization, Edentulous, Antemortem, Postmortem, Unique Characteristic of Individual.
Abstract: The loss of permanent teeth in an adult is highly undesirable. Usually, a tooth loss is caused by periodontal
disease, trauma, and or caries. A long period of time of toothless condition will cause pathological migration
of the remaining teeth and decreased alveolar bone in the edentulous region. The aim of this study is to
observe the characteristics of the alveolar bones of some edentulous skulls. Observations made on the 10
skulls in The Department of Anatomy and Histology, Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Airlangga. The teeth
loss antemortem could be differentiated from postmortem loss. Based on our observations on the edentulous
skulls, it is found that the characteristic of the alveolar bones differed from each other based on the different
rate of remodelling on the living tissue of the alveolar bone, during the life of the individuals. It can be
concluded that the edentulous condition has a certain characteristic according to the length of time of the
tooth loss, which can be compared to the data of the individual during life. It can help to identify an
unknown individual based on the unique characteristic found on the alveolar bone of the edentulous
Individualization is a part of identification related to
unidentified human remains. Individualization
describes characters and identification of human
based on the skeletal remains. Information collected
from individualization would increase the number of
data of a biographical profile according to skeletal
remains. In other words, individualization data is
supporting data in the identification process.
(Koesbardiati et al., 2016).
Tooth loss (edentulous) is a condition where
organism loose one or more teeth from its socket.
The condition mainly happened to children aged
around 6 years where the deciduous teeth are being
replaced by the permanent teeth. However, tooth
loss in adult age is a highly undesirable situation.
Generally, edentulous happens due to periodontal
disease, trauma, and dental caries (Anshary et al.,
Trauma can be interpreted as dental or
periodontal tissue damage due to contact with
objects that are not previously suspected on the
teeth, either upper jaw (Maxilla), lower jaw
(Mandible), or both. Dental trauma possibly occur
directly and indirectly. Direct dental trauma
happened when a hard object directly crash teeth.
Indirect dental trauma, on the other hand, occurred
when crash happened to the jaw, lead teeth in the
lower jaw immidiately crashes teeth in the upper jaw
in a great force such as in accident, hit by a hard
object, and in a fight (cause break in teeth or
misplacement of teeth from its socket) (Siagian,
Trauma analysis and other transformation in
skeleton could support individual identification
related to the death cause and condition. This
involves changes in physical bone characteristic.
Trauma also refers to physical disturbance of living
tissue due to external force. Skeletal trauma could
lead to the conclusion of relative period of trauma
during the death event and mechanism or the type of
force causing the trauma. The period of trauma
could be categorized as follows: antemortem
(occurred before the death) or perimortem
(happened around the time of the death).
Postmortem transformation could not be considered
Dimpudus, R., Prastyo, E. and Artaria, M.
Individualization through Observation of the Characteristic of Alveolar Bone of Edentulous Skulls.
DOI: 10.5220/0007553408840887
In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference Postgraduate School (ICPS 2018), pages 884-887
ISBN: 978-989-758-348-3
2018 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
as trauma because based on the definition, it did not
disturb the living tissue. Trauma mechanism could
be categorized as a force from both blunt and sharp
object, whether with thermal or high force, or could
be the combination of all categories (Christensen et
al., 2014).
Tooth loss is generally occurred as a result of
dental caries and periodontal disease which were
influenced by several factors. The percentage of
tooth loss due to caries and periodontal disease
depend on individual’s age. In old age tooth loss was
mainly caused by periodontal disease. In young age,
it was caused by dental caries. Tooth loss was also
influenced by smoking habit which affects
periodontitis and dental caries (Anshary et al.,
Neglecting the situation will cause a pathological
migration of the remaining teeth and alveloar bone
recession in the edentulous area (Wardhana et al.,
In terms of alveolar bone, bone remodeling is
simultaneously controlled by osteoclasts and
osteoblasts. Osteoclasts conduct bone resorption
while bone formation is induced by osteoblasts (Kim
et al., 2017).
Based on this, the authors are curious in
conducting research on “Individualization through
Observation of the Characteristic of Alveolar Bone
of Edentulous Skulls”.
Authors had observed Mandibula bones, collection
of Department of Anatomy and Histology, Faculty
of Medicine, Universitas Airlangga. The number of
individuals observed were10.
Figure 1: Fragment of the skull bone.
Figure 2: Fragment of the skull bone (from below)
Figure 3: Fragment of Mandibula bone (from above).
Figure 4: Edentulous Mandibula with alveolar
Table 1: Edentulous alveolar bones were observed with
the type of period.
Individualization through Observation of the Characteristic of Alveolar Bone of Edentulous Skulls
Edentulous in individuals observed in this
research occurred in antemortem. According to the
literature study, the situation appears on socket that
has been covered (remodeling process on alveolar
bone had occurred). Tooth loss could happen
because of periodontal disease, trauma, and caries.
This situation could provide a hint for identification
by matching antemortem data that suitable with
characteristic of edentulous mandibular bones,
where the teeth of the individual had been lost
during his/her lifetime. However, edentulous could
also appear on postmortem because the socket was
still uncovered. Several factors that could be
consideration are tooth loss before the death or
missing teeth when skeletal discovered.
In such cases to fix the identity of the unknown
human skeletal remains, ante-mortem medical
records are to be compared in the usual practice of
forensic investigations (Lodha et al., 2016).
Another antemortem transformation occurred
where bone remodeling emerges as recovery form
surgical procedure such as trephination and
remodeling the space in alveolar when tooth loss or
during the extraction process. Resorption usually
takes several months after the tooth loss. When loss
occurred on entire tooth with complete resorption
form alveolar space, individual was considered
experienced edentulous (Christensen et al., 2014).
Radiographic comparisons fall into two broad
categories; dental and medical. Having annual dental
examinations becoming the standard of care, the
likelihood of an individual having antemortem
dental radiographs is quite high. Additionally, the
mineral composition of teeth makes them extremely
resilient to postmortem damage, decomposition,
temperature extremes, and fire destruction. Thus,
both antemortem and post-mortem dental
information are likely to be available for comparison
(Hurst et al., 2013).
Gadro (1999) reported the essential tooth
antemortem data as comparison with postmortem
situation of a dead body such as dental x-rays, tooth
mold, and dental record (Indriati, 2010).
Postmortem damage could be identified because
the light appears from the object, thus it differs from
the living bone (Burns, 2013).
In postmortem damage, outer surface of the bone
has been covered with liquid decay, dirt, and
different color from its inner surface. It is important
to distinguish between perimortem and postmortem
because perimortem involves greater amount of
forensic involvement. Perimortem trauma could
result from a murder act, while postmortem damage
could be caused by animal excavation or reckless
excavator (Burns, 2013).
Antemortem trauma is a transformation
happened before an individual's death. The main
proof of an antemortem trauma is an ostogenic
reaction (the creation of new bones) because the
reaction happened naturally when the individual
live. Osteogenic reaction mainly takes form in
recovery process of response to infection. Fracture
recovery could be demonstrated by the tip of a round
fracture or callus formation, whereas infection
response could be proven by proliferative or lytic
lesions. The presence of antemortem trauma in an
unidentified framework serves as information that
can be useful in the identification process
(Christensen et al., 2014).
Generally, tooth condition provides only limited
information about antemortem of people who have
died. Although dental development can be affected
by systemic pathological conditions (Sucking et al.,
1987), manifestation in the teeth is usually limited to
make a statement that a person experiences an acute
stress event during growth. On contrary, mouth
disease such as dental damage, alveloar bone
recession, traumatic alteration, usually did not
display a helpful circumstances in developing
biological profile of a dead individual (Byres, 2010).
Postmortem damage refers to bone taphonomy
alteration occurred after the dead and is not related
to the death event. In several cases, postmortem
damage is likely related to the death events such as
mutilation or situation demonstrated by murderer
after a murder. Postmortem damage could be
differentiated from perimortem trauma according to
its color. The edge of perimortem fracture was
colored by bleeding, decomposition liquid, soil, or
other substance. The damaged edge of the bone tip
because of postmortem will appear lighter than the
surrounding area for being exposed much longer to
the environment (Christensen et al., 2014).
A wide range of variables has been recognized as
influence to the rate the rate of bone healing. These
can be classified into intrinsic, extrinsic, and
biomechanical factors and include age, fracture type,
location, severity, treatment, as well as other factors
(Boyd & Donna, 2018).
Bone remodeling (time period: years) is once the
broken bone which is stabilized by the bony callus,
osteoclasts and osteoblast take over the long-term
maintenance of the rebuilt Haversian systems. The
bony callus becomes smoother and denser but
remains visible in spite of remodeling. (Bones of a
very young child will remodel completely) (Burns,
ICPS 2018 - 2nd International Conference Postgraduate School
Healing of the resulting extraction socket
appeared to progress in an ordered and sequential
manner. It could be a great value in forensic
investigations of unidentified human remains, as it
could provide some degree of accuracy to estimate
the period of time that has elapsed between the
antemortem extraction of a particular tooth and the
time of death of that person. If the identity can be
established for human remains that have a healing
tooth-extraction wound or have bone changes related
to the recent removal of teeth, and if the dental
history of the subject is known, then this information
could provide positive contributory evidence, or
indeed negative evidence, toward identification of
the time of death (Viciano et al., 2017).
It can be concluded that the edentulous condition has
certain characteristic according to the length of time
of the tooth loss compared with the data of the
individual during life. It can help to identify an
unknown individual based on the unique
characteristic it has on the alveolar bone of the
edentulous individual.
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Individualization through Observation of the Characteristic of Alveolar Bone of Edentulous Skulls