Created By: rbx5 on December 8, 2009
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ID By Dental Records

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Sometimes, a dead body will be so devestated (i.e. burned beyond recognition) that identifying the victim by the usual means of DNA testing, face recognition, and so on cannot be used. In such cases, investigators are left with no choice but to use the victim's dental records to find out their identity.

In fictional works, this scenario has become a kind of short hand for telling the audience that this death is even more gruesome than usual, and adds another layer of complexity to the plot (Was the body really correctly identified? What if the records are missing? etc.). Also Truth in Television.

A common trope in police procedurals, medical mysteries, and forensic shows such as CSI.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • December 8, 2009
    animeg3282
    Used in Full Metal Alchemist [manga] for Maria Ross' death. she's alive- it was a ruse by Mustang
  • December 8, 2009
    Micah
    • Several Lord Peter Wimsey novels try this with varying degrees of success--the one that comes to mind immediately is The Nine Tailors, where it doesn't work.
  • December 8, 2009
    random surfer
    Frequently on Bones, where they deal with corpses in advanced states of decay and/or dimemberment.
  • December 8, 2009
    wanderlustwarrior
    • The Whole Nine Yards abused this trope to cause a misidentification, since one character was a dentist
  • December 8, 2009
    Raven Wilder
    • Referenced on How I Met Your Mother when Barney says that, given the things he knows about Goliath National Bank, he'll never be fired, but that he might one day "wash up on shore with no fingerprints or teeth."
  • December 8, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Mentioned in the opening sequence of Eternal Darkness, but the dental records cannot be used (because the victim's head is missing.)
  • December 8, 2009
    TheAdversary
  • December 8, 2009
    Clevomon
    Also, at the end of the first arc of Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, Maria's jawbone is identified this way.
  • December 8, 2009
    goodtimesfreegrog
  • December 9, 2009
    LondonKdS
    Grimly subverted in the Lord Peter Wimsey shoet "In the Teeth of the Evidence", in which an evil dentist fakes his own death by deliberately faking a patient's teeth to look like his, then murdering the patient. The same approach is used by the gangster Umberto in Jon A Jackson's Fang Mulheisen crime series.
  • December 10, 2009
    rbx5
    Bump
  • December 10, 2009
    arekuru
    I can't remember the movie's name, but there was one where a guy had been announced dead at the beginning of the film (the only thing the coronor had to go one were the teeth and dental records), but he turns up again in the end to finish off whatever his plan was. The good guy comments about the teeth, and the bad guy mentions that it was very, very painful having them all removed.
  • December 10, 2009
    Arivne
    Film
    • Wild Things. Police find some teeth by the beach and use Suzie Toller's dental records to identify them as hers and confirm her death. Later it's revealed that she knocked out her own teeth to fake her death.
  • December 10, 2009
    Treblain
    In the film The Whole Nine Yards, it becomes a Chekhovs Skill that the main character is a dentist, and can thus fake their deaths by altering the teeth and dental work of some corpses to resemble those of the characters.
  • December 22, 2009
    rbx5
    Bump
  • December 23, 2009
    Camacan
    • Victims in Wire In The Blood have been identified by their dental records in several episodes. There have also been several serial killers with enough knowledge of police proceedure to remove the victim's teeth.
  • December 27, 2009
    Camacan
    Might be time to launch this one. Is it Up For Grabs?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=dtczhp5t0oiwkc8pjlm1rqfw