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Postmortem Pink Teeth: Histochemical Identification of the Causative Pigment

van Wyk, C Werner B.Ch.D., F.D.S., R.C.S., Ph.D.
The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 1989
Forensic Odontology: PDF Only

The phenomenon of postmortem pink teeth has been reported in subjects who have died suddenly and unnaturally, and whose bodies have been subsequently exposed to a wet or moist environment. Ground and EDTA-decalcified sections of teeth of 21 corpses exhibiting postmortem pink-stained teeth were investigated for the identification of the responsible pigment. With histochemical methods and ultraviolet microscopy, the causative pigment was identified as undegraded hemoglobin. Staining from hemosiderin, bile and bile-related pigments, and porphyrins was ruled out. However, histochemical techniques are unable to reveal the form in which the hemoglobin occurred. The cause of death or time of death had no observable effect on the staining reactions for hemoglobin in the teeth

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.