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Best Practices for Taking Clinical Oral Images

High quality photos that accurately capture your patient’s dentition and occlusion are an essential component of the treatment process. Submitting quality photos enables you to properly evaluate the impressions as well as to accurately set the initial bite for your treatment plan.


 10 Tips to Remember

    It is important to check the quality of each image before moving on to the next position.


    Reject any images that cast a shadow behind the patient.


    Any photos where the patient is tipping her head is unacceptable.


    Make sure the patient is looking straight ahead.


    When evaluating buccal photos, make sure that the relationship between the first and second molars are visible.


    Reject any images that do not show this relationship clearly.


    For buccal photos, the camera should be perpendicular to the buccal segment.


    You should see both the upper and lower first molars but little to none of the opposite, upper central incisor.


    Make sure the arch is completely visible and the mirror is fog-free before taking occlusal photos.


    Make sure all the images are clear and in focus before ending the photo session.


What is your preferred camera and flash for taking clinical photos? What additional recommendations can you make?



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Best Practices for Taking Clinical Oral Images

08:24 PM | Dec 23,2017
At Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, part of the new accreditation process includes an ePortfolio that all students are required to complete. This includes images of different procedures. It is frustrating at times because it feels like extra work, but using these photographs is a very great way to track progress. Being able to show new patients prior work instills confidence in them that you know what you are doing. Creating a portfolio can also be used when applying to residencies. Even though I am just a student, I can still be proud of the progress I am making. The best way to reflect on the work I have done is by evaluating intra oral pictures.

Best Practices for Taking Clinical Oral Images

05:09 PM | Feb 22,2017
I agree with everything mentioned in this blog. Having just completed my Oral Radiology class this semester, I now realize how much dentists rely on good, accurate images when working with patients. Proper oral radiographs can give the dentist so much information, including the existence of caries, the existence of previous restorations, any possible flaws with existing restorations (such as open margins or hanging margins), any bone or soft tissue pathology, and much more. If these images are not taken properly, many things could be misdiagnosed or may go undiagnosed because the dentist was not able to see them. One important tip that I would add to that list is to make sure not to have any overlap when taking radiographs. If you have any overlap between teeth, it will be extremely difficult to check for interproximal caries.

Best Practices for Taking Clinical Oral Images

12:14 PM | Dec 19,2016
At my institution, Intra/extraoral photos are not required. You can choose to check-out a camera from the clinic dispensary if you desire to take photographs. My first thoughts were "why would I take the extra time to take these photos if they aren't required?" But I soon came to realize that I had grossly undervalued the power of good photographs! Not only do these photos provide a great baseline record, but they act as a mediator between the dentist and the patient. It's much easier to explain your diagnosis to a patient who can see, with their own eyes, what it is that you are seeing. For me, this is their true value. This allows for better patient communication and facilitates understanding and more powerful informed consent. It also encourages trust between the patient and the dentist! Great tips for technique.... Could have used these that first time I checked out a camera!

Best Practices for Taking Clinical Oral Images

11:45 AM | Dec 28,2015
I also agree that taking good intraoral/extraoral photos are very important pre-treatment and at case completion. Not only is it great for legal purposes and as a reference when your patient isn't chair side, but it is also great to build your work portfolio. Although it may sound funny to be concerned with a portfolio in private practice, I think that having one could drastically help with production and treatment planning sales. That way your patient knows that you are as good as you say you are and your work can speak for itself. One trick to consider when taking intraoral photos is to run the mirror under hot water before using them to prevent them from fogging up when the patient breathes. This to me is much easier and less complicated than having to spray air on the mirrors as I was originally taught.

Best Practices for Taking Clinical Oral Images

11:57 PM | May 02,2015
Taking good clinical oral images is crucial in today's practice of dentistry. Our school requires a a template of 8 photos be taken on every patient. The shots include: facial no smile, facial with smile, side profile, upper arch, lower arch, right buccal, left buccal and intercuspal position. It is mandatory to have all intra and extra oral photos complete before any case presentation to the patient. And sometimes I have found having good photos is the difference between yes or no in some case acceptances. We might forget sometimes that x-rays are not easy for patients to follow along with us for when discussing diagnosis. A clear and well focused photo will go a long way when trying to stressing something a doctor wants the patient to see. I also recommend using intraoral camera while doing certain procedure like explaining to the patient why a crown is needed on a tooth. The patient will clearly follow along when you show them a photo of how much tooth structure is left after excavating decay. I have had great success with this technique. I think this discussion has great tips for taking excellent clinical oral images!

Best Practices for Taking Clinical Oral Images

01:45 AM | Apr 28,2015
From a legal perspective taking intraoral as well as extraoral photographs are crucial. These images serve as legal documentation and if there is ever a discrepancy these pictures can be helpful. As mentioned above it is important to not only have photographs but also have good quality photographs. It is worth investing in a camera that will allow you to produce high quality photographs especially for cosmetic dentists. I never realized how much needs to be taken into consideration when taking intraoral photographs until I started dental school. Not only can the photographs provide legal documentation but they can also be a great way to show patients what they can or can't see. Ultimately, always take photographs!

Best Practices for Taking Clinical Oral Images

06:00 PM | Apr 24,2015
Oral images are definitely a great addition to the patient's files and should be used in all dental schools. Our patients are supposed to be educational cases, and like Ami mentioned below, they are helpful when presenting these cases to other colleagues. They give information that might be harder to describe on the written notes or that does not show on the radiographs. It is also good for the students to get used to this technology and learn the proper techniques early on, so they become proficient when taking them later. The tips given by author of the blog are really helpful. However, since I have not started clinics yet, I have not used an oral camera, but I am looking forward to learning more about them. At my school, we had a lecture about the different types of cameras and how to use them. We also have a couple available to use in the clinics, but I would love to buy my own. I was hoping to hear others opinions on what are their preferred cameras and why?

Best Practices for Taking Clinical Oral Images

08:06 PM | Mar 01,2015
I agree with the author of this blog. Clinical photographs are essential and can provide a visual progression of your patient's case. I have begun utilizing oral images heavily with my patients in clinic, especially for esthetic cases. It can be rewarding and helpful to show your patient a before and after image of their dental treatment. I have had very positive feedback from patients, who felt the clinical images gave them a better understanding about exactly what was done and the improvements that were accomplished. Clinical images can be educational. I have used my clinical images in presentations to educate my colleagues on different cases. Nonetheless, the images must be clear and precise. Rini has some great tips in her blog regarding obtaining appropriate clinical images. It is essential to follow these guidelines.

Best Practices for Taking Clinical Oral Images

11:33 AM | Dec 01,2014
I think learning how to take good oral photographs is an important skill all oral healthcare providers should practice. Not only is it good to document cases but patients really benefit from seeing and understanding what is happening in their own mouths. I think as far as taking photographs is concerned, it is important to make sure your camera is set up properly and good to go. Too many of my photo sessions have gone awry because the battery on the camera died or the flash was not working properly. When you are working against the clock and perhaps even an impatient patient, it is important to come prepared and ready to move quickly. Having good clean mirrors and cloths to clean the mirror in case it is dirtied with saliva or any other substances is also important. I also think positioning of the photographer in relation to the patient is important. Just having the patient turn their head towards you may not be enough. It is always good to have an extra set of hands to help take these photographs. I have noticed that some people like to take their buccal photos using mirrors while others like to use retractors and take the picture straight on. I think there are benefits and drawbacks to both of these methods but I have found either technique to work depending on the patient.