Question: “Why did your hygienist take several digital photos of my teeth in addition to the x-rays at my last dental visit?”
Answer: My dental team has been utilizing high-resolution digital cameras for the past four years. These cameras allow us to capture a full face, full smile, full arch, and several other types of photos with tremendous accuracy. These extraordinarily detailed photos are valuable diagnostic and educational tools. We can now capture photos of every “nook and cranny” of one’s mouth, which greatly facilitates communication and patient understanding.
Excellent photographs also improve communication with dental ceramists fabricating crowns, inlays, or veneers for our patients. It makes shade (color) matching more precise and allows very aesthetic results. Photos can be e-mailed to these dental labs or burned to a disc that can be sent with the case.
Having photos of diagnostic quality are also helpful when communicating with specialists. Consultations with specialists can be done conveniently via e-mail while talking on the phone. Insurance reimbursement for necessary procedures is also easier to obtain for patients when a photograph is sent with the x-ray and claim form.
Taking photos periodically allows us to document the condition of teeth and gums over a period of months or years. This enables us to see changes, the document “before and after” results, and perform “cosmetic imaging”. This cosmetic imaging allows patients to see what is possible in terms of smile enhancement before any work is actually performed. We regularly take photographic portraits of patients who have undergone smile-enhancing procedures and then share these beautiful photos with them.
My dental team has a lot of fun with our digital cameras, and digital photography has become part of the standard protocol in my dental practice. My team cannot imagine practicing dentistry without this fantastic technology at our disposal.