Sex determination from dentin and pulp in a medicolegal context

Sara C. Zapico, Douglas H. Ubelaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background. The techniques used to determine the sex of skeletons are limited. The authors conducted a study to analyze the accuracy of sex identification from dentin and pulp via DNA isolation. Methods. The authors extracted DNA from the dentin and pulp of 14 teeth by using a silica-based methodology. They used the amelogenin gene to determine the sex via polymerase chain reaction. β-actin, a housekeeping gene, was used as a control gene. The authors checked the results in agarose gel and semiquantified them by using gel analysis software. Results. The DNA yield depended on the type of tooth and was lowest in the smallest teeth (that is, incisors). In all cases, the authors were able to identify the sex, as well as the control gene, which suggests the potential to identify other genes, such as short tandem repeats. Conclusions. It is possible to correctly identify a person's sex from dentin and pulp; in instances in which one dental material is not available, the other material can be used with the same efficiency. Practical Implications. The results of this study are applicable to forensic dentistry, particularly in situations in which there is commingling of remains and fragmentary remains, and there may be only one tooth with which to identify a person's sex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1379-1385
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Dentistry


  • Basic sciences
  • DNA
  • Dental pulp
  • Dentin
  • Disasters
  • Forensic dentistry
  • Gene expression
  • Genetics
  • Incisor
  • Molar


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