Prevalence of talon cusps in a Portuguese population: Forensic identifi cation signifi cance of a rare trait

Ricardo Jorge Simões, Hugo F.V. Cardoso, Inês Morais Caldas


Background: Dental techniques are frequently used in human identifi cation; some of those include

comparative analyses of dental features that, being rare or unique to an individual, can establish

a positive identifi cation. The usefulness of each feature depends on its population, frequency, and

uniqueness. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of talon cusps in a Portuguese


Materials and Methods: A prospective study was performed. Three hundred and two patients

were studied, and talon cusps presence was assessed. Statistical tests were carried out using Statistical

Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 17 software (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Statistical analysis

relied primarily on descriptive statistics and crosstabs, with Chi-square analysis.

Results: Results showed that talon cusps were observed in only 6.3% of patients. The maxillary

lateral incisors were the most common teeth showing this feature (82.1% of all teeth).

Conclusion: It can be concluded that talon cusps are an uncommon trait in these Portuguese

population, and therefore, it is a feature that can be potentially very useful in forensic human

identifi cation, when antemortem dental records are available.

Key Words: Dental anatomy, forensic anthropology, forensic odontology, forensic science,human identifi cation, talon cusps

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