The intraoral camera was a big deal 15 years ago as it allowed patients to see inside their mouths during a hygiene visit. This was a game changer as we were able to show patients a broken amalgam on a posterior tooth and then the tarter hiding behind their mandibular incisors. They were amazed to see that we were actually telling them the truth, not making up reasons for why they needed a crown or that we actually had a reason to clean their teeth. These intraoral pictures lead to a change in the way dental treatment was communicated out of the hygiene chair. This led to increased acceptance of treatment.
Today we have access to high resolution dental photography that allows us to take very detailed pictures of our patients’ smiles and teeth. These types of pictures have changed once again how dentistry is delivered. Infact, modern day dental photography is something that revolutionised communication with our patients to the point that without pictures we can’t deliver modern care. Imagine a veneer case, how can we present or deliver an aesthetic case without the use of dental photography?
Dental photography is the starting point, we show our patients what we can do by showing before and after cases. By documenting every case we are able to establish a portfolio of our work. We then use smile pictures to show issues with the tooth position or problems with the smile. Our patients identify with their problems by seeing pictures. They own the problems. We can now use photographs to show digital smile designs and simulations of how they will look like after treatment. Photographs form the basis of emotional connections to treatment plans. This increases interest and commitment to change and treatment acceptance.
Our pictures are communication tools with our fellow specialists and technicians. The photos are also tools of analysis and retrospection on our cases. How did we do? Where could we improve?
I believe that high quality dental photography is the impetus of growth and change. By incorporating dental photography into all procedures and showing pictures to all patients we educate, motivate and help initiate practice as well as personal and professional growth.