Digital photography offers dental offices many efficiency and revenue-generating advantages, and high-quality images are now essential components of many day-to-day administrative, communication, clinical and/or operative, and marketing tasks. In fact, digital cameras and intraoral scanners have become standard-of-care technologies, and incorporating them into practices is now essential for eliminating the need for remakes, enabling duplication of images for multiple purposes, and removing storage requirements for film and processing chemicals, as well as many impression materials and supplies.
From the moment a patient walks through the door, dental teams can put digital photography to work to streamline identification and appointment check-in. Then, throughout the appointment, digital dental photographs can contribute to “ah-ha” moments when evaluating patients, rendering a diagnosis, and educating them about their oral health. Not only will patients love the convenience, comfort, and precision provided by digital technology, but they will also share their positive experience of their dentist’s modern and advanced practice with their friends and family.
Without question, digital images are important tools for sharing information in the dental office and transform the way dental professionals diagnose, treat, and communicate. Digital dental photographs form the basis for quicker and more accurate patient evaluations, improved treatment planning, and detailed collaboration with laboratories about desired restorative outcomes. For example, moving back and forth between radiographs and intraoral/extraoral photographs on a computer screen greatly improves visualization and identification of hard and soft tissue problems.
When these images are enlarged on screen, dentists can find, examine, and then discuss immediately with their patients and/or laboratory such problems as destructive wear patterns, hidden decay, and/or tooth fractures in faster and uniquely visual ways. Patients can immediately see and understand the extent of their oral health issues for themselves, many of which they might not have been aware of before because they couldn’t see or feel the problems.
This all leads to other practice building benefits. With digital images, dentists can garner faster case acceptance, foster better patient motivation, and inspire more committed patient compliance during and after treatment, which translates to more revenue.
In addition to patient case acceptance, digital images facilitate communication among the dentist, laboratory, and patient about specific goals, desired outcomes, and treatment planning. For example, if esthetics is the patient’s primary concern, digital dental photography helps to establish his or her treatment expectations for correcting smile asymmetry, midline discrepancies, or incisal edge positioning, among other smile deficits.
Fortunately, photographs for smile design, marketing, shade matching, treatment planning, and patient education can be taken using any number of devices. Options include fully loaded single lens reflex (SLR) cameras, simple point-and-shoot cameras, smartphones, and digital intraoral impression scanners. Therefore, dentists and their teams don’t need to be expert photographers—or invest in expensive, high-end cameras—in order to capture good photographs. All that’s needed is a basic education and routine practice using the technology.
Download DSG® Dental Photography Guide.