Use of non-clinical smile images for human identification: a systematic review

Raquel Porto Alegre Valente Franco, Ademir Franco, Rhonan Ferreira da Silva , Paulo Henrique Viana Pinto, Ricardo Henrique Alves da Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human identification using Forensic Dentistry occurs through comparative analysis of ante-mortem (AM) and post-mortem (PM) data. With the constant improvement of technology, photographs became a common source of AM data. When clinical dental records are not available, images showing the smile can be useful in human identification. The aim of this study was to investigate human identification techniques
through the analysis of smile images in the available literature. Studies on human identification through the analysis of smile images were searched in the scientific literature. The search resulted in 4,043 studies. After screening, 14 studies were considered eligible. Eleven were case reports, two were pilot studies and one a technical note. From the eligible studies, in addition to the methodological data, information about the sample, used techniques and results regarding human identification were extracted. Three techniques were detected: direct comparison of morphological characteristics, AM/PM image overlap, and the analysis of smile lines. One or more associated techniques were used for human identification. Authors highlighted as a common limitation of the techniques the quality of the available images, the difficulty in reproducing PM the same images AM, and the eventual image modifications performed by the victim before posting in social media. Advantages included the low-cost aspect of the technique, as well as a potential fast and accurate procedure (depending on the quantity and quality of evidence). In general, studies considered the technique useful and adjuvant for
human identification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Forensic Dentistry
  • Human Identification
  • Photograph
  • Smiling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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