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DNA Collection From Used Toothbrushes as a Means to Decedent Identification

Riemer, Lowell B. DDS*; Fairley, Diane BSc; OC, David Sweet DMD, PhD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 4 - p 354–356
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e318221be52
Original Articles

Comparison of DNA profiles is often used in verifying the identification of deceased human beings when other easier, quicker, and less expensive means to identification are not possible. Fifty-five adult subjects divided into 3 groups provided a used toothbrush along with a small bloodstain control for DNA analysis and comparison. Results indicate that there is no significant difference in the quantity and quality of DNA recovered from a toothbrush that has been used for 1 month versus 3 months versus random periods. The results of this study confirm earlier conclusions that a used toothbrush is a reliable source of antemortem DNA from a putative decedent. The use of aviation snips to remove a small portion of the toothbrush head provides an easy, inexpensive method of obtaining a sample for DNA extraction. The authors recommend this method as a standardized technique for use in forensic DNA laboratories.

From the *Alberta Department of Justice, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Edmonton, Alberta; and †BOLD Laboratory at UBC Dentistry, Technology Enterprise Facility 3, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Manuscript received March 10, 2011; accepted April 7, 2011.

Financial support from the Canadian Police Research Centre (contract 91027) and grant funding from the American Board of Forensic Odontology is gratefully acknowledged.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

This project was conducted in accordance with the ethical principles and guidelines for human experimentation under the auspices of The University of British Columbia Clinical Research Ethics Board (H09-01244) and Community Research Ethics Board of Alberta (protocol no. 0908).

Reprints: Lowell B. Riemer, DDS, 8-25102 TWP RD 542A, Sturgeon County, Alberta, Canada T8T 0C4. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.