Acta Scientific Dental Sciences (ISSN: 2581-4893)

Review Article Volume 4 Issue 8

Legal Validity of Criminal Identification from the Comparative Analysis of Bitemarks

Joana Mancellos1*, Maripdf/ASDSães2 and Joaquim Gonçalves3*

1Faculty of Health Sciences, Fernando Pessoa University, Portugal
2Applied Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Portugal
3Math Department, Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Campus IPCA, Portugal
4Biomedical Sciences Institute Abel Salazar, Oporto University, Portugal

*Corresponding Author: Joana Mancellos, Faculty of Health Sciences, Fernando Pessoa University, Portugal.

Received: May 30, 2020; Published: July 07, 2020



Human bitemarks are normally associated with violent crimes, and when recorded, they can be the basis for the constitution of forensic evidence in a legal context. The recording and the comparative analysis of these marks, allied with data on the suspects, enable the elaboration of forensic reports that lead to the exclusion or non- exclusion of suspects, and they also contribute to the unfolding of a criminal proceeding in which the court is responsible for issuing a sentence to a defendant. The legal validity of the comparative analysis of bitemarks in human identification is a widely discussed topic in the scientific community. The numerous publications on this subject reveal different opinions regarding its contribution in crime situations and whether or not it is legally valid. The objective of this literature review is to determine the legal significance of bitemarks in the identification of criminals, considering the methods used to study bitemarks and the reliability of their results.
This review is based on the analysis of bibliographic contents available at the PubMed database, which resulted from a search with the terms “bitemark”, “human identification”, “forensic dentistry” and “legal dentistry”, written in English and published over the course of the last 10 years.
We concluded that, in spite of the controversy around this topic, the comparative analysis of bitemarks is currently regarded as valid whenever the guidelines of the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO) are followed. These guidelines ensure the evolution of the methods of analysis and an objective distinction between the cases that are predisposed to a comparative analysis and those that are not; besides, they also reduce the occurrence of false positives while regulating the contents of forensic reports and the findings of forensic dentists, preventing the drawing of conclusions that would otherwise lead to the wrongful conviction of innocents, as it has been observed in the past.

Keywords: Human Bitemarks; Human Identification; Criminal Identification; Forensic Dentistry; Forensic Criminal Investigation



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  2. Franco A., et al. “Uniqueness of the anterior dentition three-dimensionally assessed for forensic bitemark analysis”. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine 46 (2017): 58-65.
  3. American Board of Forensic Odontology, Inc. Standards and guidelines for evaluating bitemarks (2018).
  4. Barsley RE., et al. “Epidermis and enamel: insights into gnawing criticisms of human bitemark evidence”. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology2 (2018): 87-97.
  5. Page M., et al. “Reality bites - A ten-year retrospective analysis of bitemark casework in Australia”. Forensic Science International 216 (2012): 82-87.
  6. Saks MJ. “Forensic identification: From a faith-based “Science” to a scientific science”. Forensic Science International 201 (2010): 14-17.
  7. Saks MJ. “Forensic bitemark identification: weak foundations, exaggerated claims”. Journal of Law and the Biosciences3 (2016) :538-575.
  8. Page M., et al. “Uniqueness in the forensic identification sciences - fact or fiction?” Forensic Science International 206 (2011): 12-18.
  9. Fournier G., et al. “Three-dimensional analysis of bitemarks using an intraoral scanner”. Forensic Science International 301 (2019): 1-5.
  10. Nagi , et al. “Digitalization in forensic odontology: a paradigm shift in forensic investigations”. Journal of Forensic Dental Sciences 11.1 (2019): 5-10.
  11. Oliver W “Effect of history and context on forensic pathologist interpretation of photographs of patterned injury of the skin”. Journal of Forensic Sciences 62.6 (2016): 1500-1505.


Citation: Joana Mancellos., et al. “Legal Validity of Criminal Identification from the Comparative Analysis of Bitemarks".Acta Scientific Dental Sciences 4.8 (2020): 02-10.


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