Background and aims: The comparison of post-mortem evidence to ante-mortem data is the usual approach Forensic Odontologists take in managing human identification cases. Although dental charts and radiographs are widely used as ante-mortem dental evidence, photographs, including non-clinical ones such as selfies are not regarded as such. Therefore, photographs are not regularly assessed in identifying the deceased. This cross-sectional study was aimed to investigate the possible contributions of selfies in human identification and to suggest a structured methodology to assess selfie images with the data collected.
Material and methods: An e-survey composed of five open and seven close-ended questions was designed using JISC Online Surveys program (2020) to explore the opinions of practising Forensic Odontologists and related professionals on the use of photographs and selfies in human identification. Responses to the survey were collected and analysed into descriptive charts and statistics.
Results: Eighty-two out of 200 professionals completed their responses (40.8% response rate). 73.2% of them acknowledged that selfies could be used as a main or adjunct evidence in dental identification. Experienced participants in selfies assessed dental anatomy (n = 6), dental restorations (n = 6), craniofacial landmarks (n = 5), oral soft tissues (n = 3), and implement the use of photo-editing software (n = 3) when provided with photographs to analyze using the direct comparison technique.
Conclusion: It may be concluded that selfies could be supplementary dental ante-mortem evidence. The designing of a step-by-step visual analysis of dental characteristics on a selfie photograph could subsequently be incorporated into official Forensic Odontology association guidelines worldwide. Further research in this area should be carried out along with the advancements in technology.
- Dental evidence
- Forensic dentistry
- Forensic photography
- Human identification