Experts’ opinion on the importance of therapeutic features for dental human identification using intraoral radiographs

Muhammad Afrasiab Khan (Lead / Corresponding author), Ademir Franco, Scheila Manica

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Odontology is one of the primary means for human identification. As common components of dental practice, intraoral radiographs represent an important source of antemortem (AM) data. Interpretation of these radiographs, however, may vary between forensic odontologists. The aim of this study was to investigate experts’ opinions on the interpretation of dental identifiers from intraoral radiographs. A web-based survey was distributed to international forensic odontologists. The survey included simulated cases of human identification and questions related to the use of intraoral radiographs in dental identification. Each case required the visual radiographic comparison of one AM and one postmortem (PM) intraoral radiograph. Further questions were related to the importance of different parameters that can be examined through intraoral radiographs, such as morphological, therapeutic, and pathological features; while final questions were asked about the methods used for comparative dental analysis. The survey was answered by 57 forensic odontologists across the world. The simulated case that involved therapeutic features (dental restorations) was positively identified by 56 participants (98%), while the case without therapeutic identifiers was identified only by 14 participants (24%). Almost half (54%) of the participants mentioned therapeutic features as the best (when available) for comparative human identification, followed by morphological features. The use of comparative methods for radiographic analysis was mentioned by 18 participants (32%). Intraoral radiographs enabled the analysis of dental and non-dental features – that can be therapeutic, morphological, and pathological. Specifically, therapeutic features allow a more straightforward comparison, while morphological comparisons require detailed visualization, and knowledge of anatomic structures and their variations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number200531
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Imaging
Early online date18 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Dental autopsy
  • Forensic dentistry
  • Human identification
  • Intraoral radiograph


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