A Review on Bite Marks in Forensic Dentistry

Review Article

Austin J Dent. 2022; 9(1): 1167.

A Review on Bite Marks in Forensic Dentistry

Shebah C, Sheethal A, Harshita BR, Preethi P and Prasanna RK*

Department of Oral Medicine & Radiology, A.J Institute of Dental Sciences, Rajiv Gandhi University India

*Corresponding author: Rao Kumar Prasanna, Department of Oral Medicine & Radiology, A.J Institute of Dental Sciences, Rajiv Gandhi University, NH 66, Kuntikana, Mangaluru 575004, Karnataka, India

Received: August 09, 2022; Accepted: September 05, 2022; Published: September 12, 2022


Forensic odontology plays an essential part in recognizing the bodies of victims in mass casualties, crime scenes and terrorist attacks. Bite marks are a significant substitute in crime investigation, when routine means of identification cannot be performed owing to distortion of facial structures and fingerprints. Forensic odontologists are associated with the analysis of bite marks and presentation of the evidence in the court. Bite mark identification is based on the exclusivity and singularity of individual dentition. This article reviews the importance of bite marks analysis, methods of identification and recovery of bite mark evidence and its role in forensic investigation.

Keywords: Dentition; Forensic dentistry; Humans; Human bites; Mass casualty incidents


Forensic odontology is a branch of dentistry, which in the interest of justice, deals with the proper handling and examination of dental evidence, and also with proper evaluation and presentation of dental findings. The term ‘forensic’ is derived from the Latin word forensis, which means ‘pertaining to the forum’ and, ‘odontology’ refers to the study of teeth [1]. The concept of forensic odontology is that, no two mouths are alike and that the teeth leave arecognizable mark. The human dentition is often considered as a hard tissue equivalent to fingerprints [2]. Forensic odontology has played a vital role in the identification of individuals whose bodies have been mutilated due to fire accidents, mass disasters, sexual assaults and so on. The various approaches employed in forensic dentistry include bite marks, saliva, teeth, rugoscopy, tooth prints, cheiloscopy, photographic study, dental casts, molecular methods and radiographs [3]. The preservation of dental evidence is exceptionally significant for individual identification in criminal cases [4].


Bite marks were utilized in the past for the identification of a person. In 1692, the trial of Reverend George Burroughs in Salem, Massachusetts testified that a bite mark on one of the witches was left by Reverend Burroughs. Evidence of his biting was given by one of the ladies accused of witchcraft. He was hanged to death [5].

Texas was the first court of appeal to permit bite mark as evidence in 1954. The case involved a bite mark on a piece of cheese left at a crime scene and a firearm expert performed the analysis instead of a dentist [6].

Perhaps the most well-known criminal case to bring about a conviction based on bite mark examination is that of Ted Bundy. He raped and killed numerous ladies, distinctly Lisa Levy and Martha Bowman. Bundy had bitten Levy’s buttock, leaving an imprint for forensic researchers to use to their advantage. This mark was at last what sentenced Bundy in 1979 of the homicide of Levy and the other ladies he killed. Bundy had severely crooked lower teeth, the impression of which considered simple distinguishing proof for the bite mark identification [7].

In India, the use of bite marks as forensic evidence has been limited. A notable example is the infamous Delhi Nirbhaya case 2012- 2013 where Dr Ashith Acharya, secretary of the Indian Association of Forensic Odontology (IAFO), played an essential part in convicting all the accused. He utilized police photographs of the suspect’s dental features and matched it with the bite mark injuries on the victim’s body [8].

Definition and Classification

Bite mark is defined as a mark caused by the teeth either alone or in combination with other parts of the mouth [1]. It might be viewed as an identical representation of the arrangement and characteristics of dentition. Bite marks are either left on the victim, on the culprit or an inanimate object found at the crime location. The classification of Bitemarks is discussed in detail in (Table 1).

Citation: Shebah C, Sheethal A, Harshita BR, Preethi P and Prasanna RK. A Review on Bite Marks in Forensic Dentistry. Austin J Dent. 2022; 9(1): 1167.