Date of Graduation

Summer 2012


Master of Science in Applied Anthropology


Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Suzanne Walker-Pacheco


forensic identification, age determination, dental pulp, digital radiography, periapical radiographs

Subject Categories



Previous studies have shown that dental pulp dimensions decrease with age. This decrease is quantifiable by measuring the dental pulp space on dental radiographs. The aim of this study is to determine whether the correlation between dental pulp dimensions and age are significant enough for use as an independent age determination method. The data for this study consist of tooth and pulp measurements from 535 digital periapical radiographs of the cuspid and lateral teeth from 130 individuals. Three sets of data are considered; direct tooth and pulp measurement, ratio values for tooth/pulp measurement, and mean values for five-year age groupings. I analyzed two models for each set of data: Model 1 includes all of the measurement variables and Model 2 includes only the variables having the most significant correlation to age. I applied the regression formulas to a control group to determine the error range, the mean error, and the absolute error of the estimate. The reporting of the absolute error value, generally omitted in prior studies, is critical for an accurate depiction of the results. Age correlations were most significant for the maxillary cuspid tooth. The correlation between the mean values for five-year age groupings and age were most significant, R2=0.89, p=<0.001, F=23.48, Mean Error =4.50 years, Absolute Error = 11.30. The results of this study do not support the use of this method as an independent age determination method. This method could prove useful as an adjunct to other methods to estimate the age of human remains.


© Marlene Kay Feisthamel

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