As the hardest tissue in the body, teeth have the potential to offer a wealth of biological information to the forensic anthropologist, which can include the assessment of ancestry. Using a large data set of dental measurements, the efficacy of mesiodistal and buccolingual tooth dimensions to discriminate between broad, geographically based groups is explored. A general pattern is identified: African populations have the largest teeth, Asians possess teeth of intermediate size, and Europeans have the smallest teeth. In a discriminant function analysis using crown measurements of all teeth (mandibular and maxillary and excluding the third molar), individuals were correctly classified in 71.3% of cases. When the sex of the individual is known, classification is improved up to 88.1% in females and 71.9% of males (cross-validated). Based on these results, we argue that dental metrics can be regularly employed as part of the development of the biological profile.
© 2014 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.