Community Social DentistryDental and Digital Forensics

Forensic medicine is defined as 'Medical science to contribute to the protection of the fundamental human rights of individuals and the maintenance of the safety and welfare of society by providing scientific and impartial medical judgment on legal cases and matters requiring medical clarification and advice.' Therefore, dental forensic medicine is a discipline that contributes toward the realisation of the objectives of forensic medical science from the specialised standpoint of dental science.

We aim to build our department into a research and education centre for cross-disciplinary forensic dentistry in collaboration with various related disciplines. Our department was founded in 2013 as the first department of forensic dentistry in northern Japan and the ninth among dental schools in Japan. Of the 29 dental schools in Japan, the number of schools with a dental forensic research organisation is not adequate. There are also very few courses in forensic dentistry that can offer postgraduate education. In contrast, Tohoku University houses many organisations, including ten faculties, 16 graduate schools and six research institutes, enabling us to provide advanced education by taking advantage of our status as members of the large-scale comprehensive national university.

On 11 March 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0, one of the largest earthquakes in the world, struck Japan, and the subsequent devastating tsunami caused more than 18 000 victims and missing persons. As members of a university located in the area that suffered from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, we are committed to developing our activities and taking a global perspective on forensic dentistry's trends and prospects. Tohoku University is located nearest to the epicentre of this massive earthquake. Many Tohoku University School of Dentistry members were assigned to dental identification tasks, starting with initial mobile assistance for local police and general practitioners and searching and matching missing persons even more than ten years after the disaster. Of course, we were sufferers of the disaster; however, we were engaged in the dental identification work, supported by our strong sense of mission as dentists. Our intense desire to identify the victims who have lost their lives and names by the disaster and return them to their proper place is still the motivation behind our activities.

We must share our experiences with future generations to prepare them for the various large-scale disasters in the future. And we must not only emotionally tell stories of our experiences but propose practical strategies based on experiences and lessons learned to reduce the number of unidentified people in disasters. It is natural to hope that large-scale disasters will not occur again. However, it is necessary to distinguish between emotional wishes and fair assessment of possible damage and preparations for disasters. We will continue to contribute to protecting the human rights of victims of various disasters and crimes in ways that only we can.


Topics of Research

  • Morphological studies on the human skeletal remains   
  • Application of dental information in identification   
  • Mass fatality incident management and assistance
  • Morphological studies on the teeth of Japanese    
  • Comparative odontology on the mammals

Recent Publications

  • Kosaka M, Hatano Y, Yoshida K, Tsogtsaikhan K, Kuruppuarachchige I, Suzuki T, Analysis on unidentified cases in which dental information was collected from 2014 to 2019 in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Legal Medicine 55: 102015, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.legalmed.2022.102015
  • Kurniawan A, Yodokawa K, Kosaka M, Ito K, Sasaki K, Aoki T, Suzuki T, Determining the effective number and surfaces of teeth for forensic dental identification through the 3D point cloud data analysis. Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences 10:3, 2020. DOI: 10.1186/s41935-020-0181-z
  • Kosaka M, Sumita Y, Taniguchi H, Suzuki T, Sasaki K, Evaluation of salivary cortisol levels in relation to dento-maxillary prosthesis adjustment. Journal of prosthodontic Research 63: 73-77, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpor.2018.08.004
  • Sawaura R, Sawada J, Sato T, Suzuki T, Sasaki K, Late Pleistocene hares of the Japanese archipelago: Paleobiogeographic implication at the Last Glacial Maximum. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 28:179-187, 2018. DOI: 10.1002/oa.2645

Laboratory Contacts