Title page for ETD etd-04152009-140513

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Wilson, Teresa Veronica
Author's Email Address teresavwilson@gmail.com
URN etd-04152009-140513
Title Estimating Age at Death by Examining the Crystallite Size of Hydroxylapatite in Human Teeth
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Geography & Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mary H Manhein Committee Chair
Ray E Ferrell Jr Committee Member
Rebecca Saunders Committee Member
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Crystallite Size
  • X-ray Diffraction
  • Hydroxylapatite
  • Dentition
  • Teeth
Date of Defense 2009-04-14
Availability unrestricted
Estimation of age is an important component of the biological profile that forensic anthropologists construct in order to attain a positive identification of a deceased individual. This research is a proof of concept study for the use of X-ray diffraction (XRD) on a tooth sample to estimate age. Previous research (Meneghini et al. 2003; Hanschin and Stern 1992) has concluded that the crystallite size of bone will increase with increased age.

The feasibility of the use of teeth in XRD analysis was first tested using pig teeth (samples P1, P2, and P3). Another set of pig teeth (PC1, PC2, and PC3) were analyzed to determine if there were differences in tooth type for a single individual. Tooth samples were collected from individuals of known age in order to establish whether the crystallite size of hydroxylapatite changes with increased chronological age. All samples were cleaned and prepared using the same set of procedures. The resulting diffraction patterns from the XRD testing were analyzed using Jade 6 software to determine the full width half maximum (FWHM) for each of the samples. The crystallite size was then calculated using Scherrer’s formula.

The first set of pig samples proved that it was possible to analyze teeth with XRD. The second set of samples demonstrated that there were crystallite size differences in the tooth types. The human teeth confirmed that there were differences in tooth type and presented evidence that there was a downward correlation between chronological age and crystallite size in teeth. Due to the rejection of the initial hypothesis, an alternative hypothesis was constructed stating that the crystallite size of the hydroxylapatite will decrease in teeth as age increases in an individual. Results of this research suggest the trend toward a decrease in crystallite size as an individual increases in age.

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