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Medicina Legal de Costa Rica

On-line version ISSN 2215-5287Print version ISSN 1409-0015


HERNANDEZ CARAZO, Diana et al. Determination of the most common symbology used in dental records in Costa Rica in 2019 for identification of human beings. Med. leg. Costa Rica [online]. 2020, vol.37, n.1, pp.179-191. ISSN 2215-5287.


The objective of the research was to establish what is the symbology used by dentistry professionals to document the most common dental findings in their records; with the purpose of including it in a single standardized dental format for identification purposes in Costa Rica.

Materials and methods:

Through a questionnaire the symbology used by general dentists and specialists was identified and compared to record the dental findings in their files. A pilot phase with 8 questionnaires was carried out and after the corrections, it was applied to a sample of 49 dentists that included general and all specialties dentists. The statistical techniques used for the analysis of the information collected in the surveys are frequency distributions, crossing of variables, comparison of means based on the analysis of variance. The minimum level of confidence for the comparisons was 95%. The statistical processing of the data was designed a database created in EPI-INFO 6.4, the statistical processing of the data was performed in SPSS version 13.0 and in Excel.


The sample was conformed by 49 participants, 56% were men and 44% women. The age varies between 25 and 65 years; the average age was 44.5 years (95% CI: 41.7 - 47.3) and a median age [1] of 43 years, which had no statistically significant difference (p = 0.552) between the average age between men and women. A 70% of dentists use physical records, while only 17% use digital records, and 13% use both; digital files present the majority of problems with 62.5%, compared to the written format who has a prevalence of 36.4% where the main problem is that the letter was not understood in an 86.7 %.


Dental records are extremely useful to collaborate in the process of human identification in fatalities; however, it was possible to identify that not all dental professionals in Costa Rica make adequate documentation in their clinical records. A standardized symbology is proposed for such documentation.

Keywords : Dental records; clinical files; identification; dental chart.

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