Forensic thanatology and the pink tooth phenomenon: From the lack of relation with the cause of death to a potential evidence of cadaveric decomposition in dental autopsies — Case series

Ademir Franco (Lead / Corresponding author), Solon Diego Santos Carvalho Mendes, Fernando Fortes Picoli, Livia Graziele Rodrigues, Rhonan Ferreira Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Forensic thanatology comprises the investigation of every phenomenon related to death performed through cadaveric exams. The pink tooth phenomenon (PTP) emerges as a thanatological finding registered during medical or dental autopsy. The PTP consists of a reddish or pink coloration caused in the teeth by the penetration of pulpal hemoglobin in the dentinal tubules. Initially, the PTP was associated with specific violent deaths, such as drowning, hanging and poisoning. However, scientific reports have pointed towards the occurrence of PTP as an expression of cadaveric decomposition regardless of the cause of death. The present study aims to report eight dental autopsies of victims of violent death that presented the PTP. The autopsies were conducted by forensic pathologists and dentists between 2013 and 2018. Seven victims were males and one was female. The age ranged above 6 years old. Cranio-encephalic trauma, firearm shooting and asphyxia figured as the causes of death. All the victims were in advanced decomposition. The PTP was detected in deciduous and permanent, anterior and posterior and maxillary and mandibular teeth. Forensic experts, especially dentists, must be aware of the PTP for more detailed registration of postmortem findings and more accurate cadaveric exams.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e8-e12
JournalForensic Science International
Volume291
Early online date18 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Autopsy
  • Cause of death
  • Decomposition
  • Pink tooth phenomenon
  • Thanatology

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