Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/167

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
163
THE TEETH AS A MEANS OF IDENTIFICATION.

(g) Rich cream color shading to yellowish at cervical border, (h) Upper laterals both everted at mesial border: right lower central crowded inward, (i) First right upper bicuspid and second left lower molar missing; first upper molar broken off and roots remaining. (j) 1, gold filling; 2, large amalgam filling; 3, cement filling. (k) 1, deep decay; 2, shallow decay. (l) Dead tooth and chronic abscess and fistula. PSM V65 D167 Dental diagram with identifiers.pngFig. 1. Upper jaw above; lower jaw below. (m) 1, gold teeth crown; 2, porcelain crown. (n) 1, third molar peg-shaped; 2, both lower bicuspids of tricuspid form; 3, whitish spot on labial face.

The history of life insurance litigation demonstrates the value of imperishable physical data for the purpose of identification, and these data the teeth furnish. It is more than probable that much expensive litigation and unfair decisions would have been avoided if these data had been heretofore utilized. In the celebrated Hillmon case, which dragged its slow length for twenty years through the United States courts of the west, casts of the alleged corpse of Hillmon were placed in evidence which showed that the denture was perfect and regular, while the teeth of Hillmon himself were said to be irregular and some were absent. It was a case in which the body was so disfigured by decomposition that evidence in regard to the teeth was of the utmost importance. If a chart of Hillmon 's own teeth could have been produced which showed some of his dental peculiarities (missing teeth, irregularities, fillings, etc.) a comparison with the teeth of the corpse would have been of advantage so that the case would have been sooner settled and much tedious and expensive litigation avoided.

The data are so accessible and so important, that we feel justified in urging the matter upon the attention of those who have charge of the classes of which physical records are required. The dental data should be employed as supplementary to other systems of signs for identification, and would thus be of value in the records of soldiers and criminals as well as for insurance companies.