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South African Dental Journal

versão On-line ISSN 0375-1562
versão impressa ISSN 0011-8516


MANYUKWI, V et al. Will "selfies" solve the identification crisis in lower socio-economic South Africans? A dental feature analysis of "selfies". S. Afr. dent. j. [online]. 2022, vol.77, n.1, pp.23-28. ISSN 0375-1562.

Identification in forensic odontology requires that a known characteristic of an individual's dentition be compared with the same characteristic of the unknown decedent. In South Africa a number of factors render forensic identification of unknown individuals challenging. Many South Africans do not have access to modern dentistry, and consequently do not have ante-mortem dental records. In South Africa, 22 million people are said to own a smart phone, which accounts for close to 40% of the country's population. The aim of the study was to investigate selfies as a source of dental feature information in a government clinic catering to previously disadvantaged patients. Identifiable dental features were observed in 61 (5.6%) of the collected images (N=1098). The low number of useable selfies collected in this study could be attributed to: a lack of smiles seen in the received images. Individuals with poor dental aesthetics would commonly choose to take a selfie with a closed mouth where their teeth would not be visible. The most commonly identified dental features included: diastemas (49.2%), dental jewellery (37.7%), crowding (16.4%), differencein tooth height (16.3%), discoloured (8.2%) and missing teeth (8.2%). This study found that selfies cannot solve the identification crisis in lower socio-economic South Africans. Awareness of the importance of selfies in forensic identification should be increased.

Palavras-chave : Forensic Odontology; identification; record keeping; mobile phones; selfies; dental features.

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