Contact between human mouth and/or teeth and skin will leave evidence of the amount of force used in the contact as well as material (saliva) and/or teeth marks that can lead to the identification of the biter. Love bites or hickeys (suction injuries) result when there is extended oral contact with the skin of a partner involving sucking or biting. Hickeys are typically seen on the neck but may occur on any part of the body and usually exhibit no evidence of damage to the subepidermal layers, although discoloration from tissue fluid leakage may occur. On the other hand, love bites, and bites inflicted during a struggle, usually damage the dermis, leaving a partial or complete pattern of the dentition of the biter ( Fig 257:10). Not only can this bite pattern be used for comparison with the dental pattern of the suspect, but the recognition of the bite mark sustained during an attack should alert a physician to protect the skin surrounded by the bite pattern so that it can be swabbed to obtain saliva containing DNA material. A DNA profile can be compared with that of a suspect, providing almost 100 percent accuracy of identification. The most severe form of human bite is one that extends through the dermis into the subcutaneous tissue and results in the loss of blood. Thus, one can grade bite marks as first degree (mild), second degree (moderate), or third degree (severe). Using this grading system, a love bite would be considered in the mild category, whereas one similar to that occurring during a recent notorious boxing match as third degree (severe).

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