Age Prediction in the Adult Based on the Pulp-to-Tooth Ratio in Lower Third Molars: A Cone-beam CT Study

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Firas Alsoleihat; Mohammad H. Al-Shayyab; Heba Kalbouneh; Heba Al-Zer1; Soukaina Ryalat; Abeer Alhadidi; Hamza Saoud; Ashraf I. Shaweesh; Salah A. Al-Omoush & Ameen Khraisat


Estimation of age-at-death is an integral part of the identification process of individuals in many forensic odontology cases where their identity cannot be determined by visualization or other ways. Dental age estimation in the adult is more challenging as most of the dentition is completely developed by 18 years of age. This study employs a mesio-distal (MD) pulp-to-tooth ratio taken at the neck of lower third molars (LM3) to provide an estimation of age at the time of radiographic imaging based on the well-known fact that pulp volume tends to decrease with advancing age due to continued apposition of secondary dentine throughout adulthood. A total of 155 Cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) radiographs of LM3s for a random sample of 155 Jordanian Arabs (80 females, 75 males; age range= 18-58 years, mean age= 28.2 years, SD =10.0 years) were used. Both pulp and tooth MD diameters were measured at the neck. MD pulp-to- tooth ratios for LM3s were linearly regressed against age. Statistically significant negative association was found between an individual’s age at the time of imaging and the MD pulp-to-tooth ratio taken at the neck. Specifically, the strength of the association is r= -0.361, which means only 13.0 % of the variation in age can be explained by the MD pulp-to-tooth ratio taken at the neck. Therefore, it was concluded that MD pulp-to-tooth ratio taken at the neck of LM3s is not a reliable predictor of chronological age in adults, possibly due to the large variation in the timing of LM3 development.

KEY WORDS: Estimation of age-at-death; Forensic odontology; Archaeology; Paleontology; Dental age estimation; Third molars.

How to cite this article

ALSOLEIHAT, F.; AL-SHAYYAB, M. H.; KALBOUNEH, H.; AL-ZER, H.; RYALAT, S.; ALHADIDI, A.; SAOUD, H.; SHAWEESH, A. I.; AL-OMOUSH, S. A. & KHRAISAT, A. Age prediction in the adult based on the pulp-to-tooth ratio in lower third molars: a cone- beam CT study. Int. J. Morphol., 35(2):488-493, 2017.