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Detection of Composite Resin Restorations Using an Ultraviolet Light–Emitting Diode Flashlight During Forensic Dental Identification

Guzy, Gerald DDS; Clayton, Mary Ann MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2013 - Volume 34 - Issue 2 - p 86–89
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3182886f77
Case Reports

With the increased use of composite resin and the decreased use of amalgam as a dental restorative material, the forensic dental identification of unidentified human remains has become more difficult. Various methods have been used to detect the presence of composite resin restorations including dyes, forensic alternative light sources, quantitative light-induced fluorescence, and ultraviolet lights. Although these methods may be helpful, the expense of the equipment, the electrical requirements, and the need for water to wash the dye from the mouth may make these methods impractical especially in a temporary morgue situation during a mass disaster. The fluorescent properties of composite resins, when exposed to ultraviolet light, are well documented. Standard tube ultraviolet lights have been used to detect the presence of composite resin, but these lights are large and bulky, and the tubes are fragile. The development of ultraviolet light emitting diode flashlights has provided forensic odontologists with a tool that is small, inexpensive, and battery operated. The two forensic dental identification cases described here demonstrate the value of ultraviolet light emitting diode flashlights as an adjunct to a careful clinical and radiographic examination.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the article.

From the Bergen County Medical Examiner’s Office, Paramus, NJ.

Manuscript received June 13, 2011; accepted September 27, 2011.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Gerald Guzy, DDS, 492 Hensler Lane Oradell, NJ 07649. E-mail:

Supplemental digital contents are available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s Web site (

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.