Technical Limitations of Cementum Annulation Count Method for age Estimation. Findings From A Scoping Review

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Fernando Rivera-Mendoza; P. Valentina Espinoza-Silva & Gabriel M. Fonseca


In the last decade, forensic odontology has focused on the development of age estimation (AE) methodologies due to the great request in identification processes. Among these techniques, the tooth cementum annulation (TCA) count method has offered promising but also contradictory results, raising questions about its accuracy and reliability. The aim of this work was to characterize, establish the scope, and identify the limitations of the TCA count method according to the current normative and methodological standards. A scoping review was carried out for TCA count methods for AE, including experi- mental studies and technical notes in the PubMed/Medline, Scopus, Web of Science (WoS) and Embase databases. The terms "estimation”, “age” and “cementum” were used, with a complementary manual search in Google Scholar. Reviews, studies in archaeological collections, radiological studies and letters to the editor were excluded. The search yielded a total of 273 articles, selecting 27 of them that met the inclusion criteria. Most of the studies were published in Asia, particularly India (n=21). Only 6 articles declared the total number of individuals, types of teeth, and histological sections, with the premolar being the most studied. Only two articles evaluated the quality of the sample to be analyzed through the legibility of the cuts obtained. The most widely used test to assess the precision of the method was the Pearson correlation coefficient (n=21). These findings expose the high heterogeneity reported in EE methodologies by counting TCA, so there is still no standardized process that covers in all its stages and delivers reliable results following current legal standards for scientific evidence. More control of the detected technical limitations will increase the value as evidence in a legal or forensic identification context.

KEY WORDS: Age estimation; Tooth cementum annulations; Dental cementum; Forensic odontology; Identification.

How to cite this article

RIVERA-MENDOZA, F.; ESPINOZA-SILVA, P. V. & FONSECA, G. M. Technical limitations of cementum annulation count method for age estimation. Findings from a scoping review. Int. J. Morphol., 41(3):733-742, 2023.