When forensic odontology met biochemistry: Multidisciplinary approach in forensic human identification

Joe Adserias-Garriga, Christian Thomas, Douglas H. Ubelaker, Sara C. Zapico

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


When human remains are found, the priority of the investigation is to ascertain the identity of the deceased. A positive identification is a key factor in providing closure for the family of the deceased; it is also required to issue the death certificate and therefore, to settle legal affairs. Moreover, it is difficult for any forensic investigation involving human remains to be solved without the determination of an identity. Therefore, personal identification is necessary for social, legal and forensic reasons. In the last thirty years forensic odontology has experienced an important transformation, from primarily involving occasional dental identification into a broader role, contributing to the determination of the biological profile. In the same way, “DNA fingerprinting” has evolved not only in terms of improving its technology, but also in its application beyond the “classical”: helping with the estimation of sex, age and ancestry. As these two forensic disciplines have developed independently, their pathways have crossed several times through human identification operations, especially the ones that require a multidisciplinary approach. Thus, the aim of this review is to describe the contributions of both forensic odontology and molecular biology/biochemistry to human identification, demonstrating how a multidisciplinary approach can lead to a better and more efficient identification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-14
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • General Dentistry
  • Cell Biology


  • Biochemistry
  • Biological profile
  • Forensic odontology
  • Geographical origin
  • Personal identification


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