Hierarchical contour matching for dental X-ray radiographs

Omaima Nomir, Mohamed Abdel-Mottaleb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The goal of forensic dentistry is to identify individuals based on their dental characteristics. In this paper we present a new algorithm for human identification from dental X-ray images. The algorithm is based on matching teeth contours using hierarchical chamfer distance. The algorithm applies a hierarchical contour matching algorithm using multi-resolution representation of the teeth. Given a dental record, usually a postmortem (PM) radiograph, first, the radiograph is segmented and a multi-resolution representation is created for each PM tooth. Each tooth is matched with the archived antemortem (AM) teeth, which have the same tooth number, in the database using the hierarchical algorithm starting from the lowest resolution level. At each resolution level, the AM teeth are arranged in an ascending order according to a matching distance and 50% of the AM teeth with the largest distances are discarded and the remaining AM teeth are marked as possible candidates and the matching process proceeds to the following (higher) resolution level. After matching all the teeth in the PM image, voting is used to obtain a list of best matches for the PM query image based upon the matching results of the individual teeth. Analysis of the time complexity of the proposed algorithm prove that the hierarchical matching significantly reduces the search space and consequently the retrieval time is reduced. The experimental results on a database of 187 AM images show that the algorithm is robust for identifying individuals based on their dental radiographs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalPattern Recognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Antemortem
  • Chamfer distance
  • Dental biometrics
  • Dental radiograph
  • Hierarchical
  • Identification
  • Multi-resolution
  • Postmortem
  • Segmentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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