Effects of extreme heat on teeth with implications for histologic processing

Sandra L. Myers, John M. Williams, James S. Hodges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This pilot study examined teeth subjected to extreme heat under laboratory conditions, and the subsequent effect of decalcification and histologic processing. Physical and microscopic findings were evaluated in relation to temperature and duration of thermal insult. Microscopic examination following decalcification and histologic processing revealed changes including severe tissue fragmentation, vapor bubbles within dentinal tubules, altered histologic staining, charring and tissue shrinkage. Dentin appeared to be the most reliable microscopic identifier of incinerated dental tissues. Temperatures above 600°C strongly predicted tooth disintegration following decalcification. This finding has implications in incineration cases where histologic evidence must be maintained and examined intact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-809
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1999


  • Dentition
  • Forensic science
  • Histologic processing
  • Histology
  • Incineration


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