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Medicina Legal de Costa Rica

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


FERNANDEZ CHAVES, José Manuel. Perception of the usefulness of dental records as a method of human identification in high-risk professions: the case of the OIJ investigators. Med. leg. Costa Rica [online]. 2022, vol.39, n.1, pp.107-119. ISSN 2215-5287.


People who work in criminal investigations are exposed to a high risk of suffering injuries or dying during operations against organized crime that can cause conditions that make identification difficult by conventional methods. This research was carried out in the investigators of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (Judicial Investigation Agency) to establish the perception of the usefulness of dental records as a method of identification and to elaborate a unique format of dental information antemortem.

Materials and methods:

A pilot questionnaire was designed and applied to 10 people to be calibrated and validated. Subsequently, a final electronic questionnaire was generated on the Google Forms platform that was sent via institutional email to all the investigators consisting of 1200 individuals, of which 807 responded in the period of the June 21 to July 20, 2021. The results were analyzed by frequency distributions, crossing of variables, comparison of means based on the analysis of variance. The minimum confidence level for comparisons was 95%.


The questionnaire was conducted by 807 people, 79% men and 21% women. The mean age was 37.8 years (95% CI: 37.3 - 38.48) with no statistically significant difference (p=0.419), 80% work in the Central Region of the country, 78% indicate that they visited the dentist a year or less ago and 69% report that at some point they have taken a panoramic X-ray, 89% say they have dental treatments such as crowns, bridges or implants; and 88% consider dental records as a method of identification very useful, and place it in third place in knowledge (95.5%) when compared with DNA (99.6%) and dactyloscopy (98.7%).


The investigators of the Judicial Investigation Agency consider that dental records are useful in the identification of human beings and have useful antemortem information for this purpose.

Keywords : Criminal investigation; identification; dental records; perception; occupational risk.

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