Automatic removal of soft tissue from 3D dental photo scans; an important step in automating future forensic odontology identification

Anika Kofod Petersen*, Andrew Hugh Forgie, Dorthe Arenholt Bindslev, Palle Villesen, Line Staun Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The potential of intraoral 3D photo scans in forensic odontology identification remains largely unexplored, even though the high degree of detail could allow automated comparison of ante mortem and post mortem dentitions. Differences in soft tissue conditions between ante- and post mortem intraoral 3D photo scans may cause ambiguous variation, burdening the potential automation of the matching process and underlining the need for limiting inclusion of soft tissue in dental comparison. The soft tissue removal must be able to handle dental arches with missing teeth, and intraoral 3D photo scans not originating from plaster models. To address these challenges, we have developed the grid-cutting method. The method is customisable, allowing fine-grained analysis using a small grid size and adaptation of how much of the soft tissues are excluded from the cropped dental scan. When tested on 66 dental scans, the grid-cutting method was able to limit the amount of soft tissue without removing any teeth in 63/66 dental scans. The remaining 3 dental scans had partly erupted third molars (wisdom teeth) which were removed by the grid-cutting method. Overall, the grid-cutting method represents an important step towards automating the matching process in forensic odontology identification using intraoral 3D photo scans.

Translated title of the contributionAutomatisk fjernelse af blødt væv fra 3D-tandfotoscanninger; Et vigtigt skridt i automatisering af fremtidig retsmedicinsk odontologisk identifikation
Original languageEnglish
Article number12421
JournalScientific Reports
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • 3D scans
  • Automated comparison
  • Data science
  • Forensic odontology
  • IOS (intraoral scanner)
  • Identification


Dive into the research topics of 'Automatic removal of soft tissue from 3D dental photo scans; an important step in automating future forensic odontology identification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this