Human dental age estimation using third molar developmental stages: Accuracy of age predictions not using country specific information

P. W. Thevissen, A. Alqerban, J. Asaumi, F. Kahveci, J. Kaur, Y. K. Kim, P. Pittayapat, M. Van Vlierberghe, Y. Zhang, S. Fieuws, G. Willems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Unquestionable forensic age investigations are based on statistical models constructed on a sample containing subjects of identical origin as the examined individual. In cases where corresponding models are unavailable, the established report has to describe the possible effects of this unrelated information on the predicted age outcome. The aim of this study is to collect country specific databases of third molar development and to verify how the related dental age estimations are influenced if we were to use dental developmental information only from Belgium or from all collected countries together.Data containing third molar developmental stages scored following Gleiser and Hunt (modified by Köhler) were collected from 9 country specific populations (Belgium, China, Japan, Korea, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, Saudi-Arabia and South-India). Age predictions were obtained from a training dataset and validated on a test dataset. Bayes rule using the repeated third molar scores is applied to get age predictions and prediction intervals. Three age predictions were compared for males and females separately. For the first prediction, the training dataset contains only Belgian subjects. For the second prediction, the training dataset for each country consists only of subjects of the country itself. For the final prediction, subjects from all countries are pooled into one common training dataset. Besides the (absolute) difference between the chronological age and the predicted age, specific interest lies in the juvenile-adult distinction.In the age range from 16 to 22 years 6982 subjects (3189 male and 3793 female) were analyzed.Using information on third molar development from Belgium compared to information from the country specific databases hardly increased the mean absolute differences (MAD) and mean squared errors (MSE): the MAD and MSE increased on average with 0.5 and 2.5 months with maximal increases of, respectively 1.6 and 7.3 months.Using information from all countries pooled compared to country specific information provided even on average negligible increases (0.05 and 0.2 months for MAD and MSE, respectively). For the juvenile-adult discrimination, using information from all countries instead of country specific information yielded comparable performances. Using Belgium instead of country specific information increased the percentage of correctly identified juveniles, but decreased the percentage of correctly identified adults.The adult-juvenile discrimination based on information used from Belgium provides judicially the best applied reference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-111
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


  • Accuracy
  • Age determination by teeth
  • Bayesian
  • Country specific populations
  • Forensic odontology
  • Third molars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Human dental age estimation using third molar developmental stages: Accuracy of age predictions not using country specific information'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this