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Forum Category: General Dentistry

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Digital Photography: Why It Matters

Dr. Jack Griffin recently spoke to a group of our enrolled dental students in an online webinar on digital photography. Here are some of his tips for using photography effectively in your practice. 
 

In dentistry, you'll learn the power of a picture. Why is photography so important? It's about emotion, emphasis, education and encouragement.

 

  • Emotion is what we're trying to get across to the patients, particularly when we talk about high-end work, cosmetic work, implants, all those things. It's about stirring an emotion inside of a patient that says, "Yes, I want that treatment." 
  • Emphasis is what we refer to when we talk about making a treatment plan and then showing a patient why we want them to have the work done that we recommend. For example, if they had a cracked tooth and we want to do a crown on the tooth, it's to emphasize why we think they need the crown. 
  • Next is to educate. We want to show the patients what we can do, what we've done in the past and what it is we plan on doing for them. 
  • Encourage them to accept treatment we've planned for them. It's a big package of things to present to a patient, but showing them a visual representation of what we can do can aid in your discussion. 


If you look at the return on investment on the things you can buy, an SLR camera can't be replaced. 

 

 
In what ways have you used a digital camera in a treatment plan for a patient? What questions do you have about implementing a digital camera in your daily practice? 
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Digital Photography: Why It Matters

04:35 PM | Feb 12,2017
I couldn't agree more with the power of digital photography. In addition to the very important points touched upon, I also think it is an important aspect to have in dentistry because of legal documentation and insurance verification. With the ease of digital photography, why not have have more of it in dentistry? At the University of Maryland, we take a lot of clinical photographs on our patients before treatment, throughout treatment, and after treatment. I think what digital photograph in dentistry has taught me the most is self-education and improvement. Sometimes it is easier to look back when you are not in the moment and critique yourself. In my mind, digital photography in dentistry is one of the most beneficial means for constant improvement and continuous learning.

Digital Photography: Why It Matters

06:19 PM | Apr 18,2016
I couldn't agree more with the importance of using digital photography as a main patient education tool. Some treatments are harder to explain in lay terms to patients, but visuals can bring treatment onto a platform of better understanding. For example, one of my more stubborn patients had bruxed through her posterior fixed bridge, leaving a gaping hole with clinical decay. Her argument for not replacing it was "it feels fine" and "no one can see it back there". After several discussions I took intraoral photos and sat her down to show her what I was looking at. She appalled to see the condition her tooth was in and immediately changed her attitude. Before and after photos make a huge difference as well. While some treatment plans can take quite awhile to complete (especially in the dental school setting), it's always a big moment to reveal to yourself and the patient how their occlusion, esthetics, and over oral health have increased since their first appointment.

Digital Photography: Why It Matters

01:53 PM | Apr 01,2016
I agree completely. Every patient should feel an emotional response when you are working with them on oral health instructions or advising them on their potential for cosmetic treatments. I have found in clinic that true compliance comes after eliciting an emotional response from a patient in the right direction. Some patients come in already having had their emotional breakthrough (for lack of a better term) and are ready to get going and improve their hygiene and/or aesthetics. Photos are a great way to help someone that does not think their hygiene is poor to realize where they are really at. Even when I see up close photos of my own teeth, I have to admit, I can feel some pings of emotion as well and I think to myself, maybe I want to step it up a bit....

Digital Photography: Why It Matters

03:32 PM | Feb 21,2016
I think that digital photography is very useful for treatment planning and patient education. Most patients don't have a good idea of what their fillings look like up close or what a cavity looks like. It is tricky to learn how to take good pictures, though! Does anyone have suggestions for taking consistently good photographs? Another aspect of dental photography I like is the use of an intraoral camera - a wand-like device that projects magnified pictures onto a screen. One of my friends' dentists uses it regularly. My friend said it was interesting to see close-up pictures of his mouth in real time. The video made is stored in his chart as a point of comparison.

Digital Photography: Why It Matters

03:32 PM | Feb 21,2016
I think that digital photography is very useful for treatment planning and patient education. Most patients don't have a good idea of what their fillings look like up close or what a cavity looks like. It is tricky to learn how to take good pictures, though! Does anyone have suggestions for taking consistently good photographs? Another aspect of dental photography I like is the use of an intraoral camera - a wand-like device that projects magnified pictures onto a screen. One of my friends' dentists uses it regularly. My friend said it was interesting to see close-up pictures of his mouth in real time. The video made is stored in his chart as a point of comparison.

Digital Photography: Why It Matters

03:32 PM | Feb 21,2016
I think that digital photography is very useful for treatment planning and patient education. Most patients don't have a good idea of what their fillings look like up close or what a cavity looks like. It is tricky to learn how to take good pictures, though! Does anyone have suggestions for taking consistently good photographs? Another aspect of dental photography I like is the use of an intraoral camera - a wand-like device that projects magnified pictures onto a screen. One of my friends' dentists uses it regularly. My friend said it was interesting to see close-up pictures of his mouth in real time. The video made is stored in his chart as a point of comparison.

Digital Photography: Why It Matters

03:32 PM | Feb 21,2016
I think that digital photography is very useful for treatment planning and patient education. Most patients don't have a good idea of what their fillings look like up close or what a cavity looks like. It is tricky to learn how to take good pictures, though! Does anyone have suggestions for taking consistently good photographs? Another aspect of dental photography I like is the use of an intraoral camera - a wand-like device that projects magnified pictures onto a screen. One of my friends' dentists uses it regularly. My friend said it was interesting to see close-up pictures of his mouth in real time. The video made is stored in his chart as a point of comparison.

Digital Photography: Why It Matters

12:47 AM | Nov 01,2015
As an amateur photographer, I love the idea of implementing intra oral photography into part of the comprehensive exam. At some offices, I have seen this as part of the exam, as x-rays and then intra oral photos. I think it's a great idea to track progress, explain treatments, and keep for records. I am particularly interested in pediatrics, and having intra oral photos would be a great way to monitor changes and plan treatment. I agree that having photos is a nice way to plan while the patient is not in the dental chair. In working with kids, this is especially important because their ability to sit in the chair during the appointment is limited. Thanks for a great post!

Digital Photography: Why It Matters

01:40 AM | Oct 14,2015
One of the main reasons I love having intraoral photographs is so that I can still see what is inside the patient's mouth when the patient is not in the chair. When I am working out a complex treatment plan, it becomes much easier to consult with other dentists and students by having something more substantial to show them. Overall, it helps me be more prepared to deliver quality patient care.

Digital Photography: Why It Matters

11:06 PM | Sep 27,2015
Great tips! I agree that photography is very important and its all about emotion, emphasis, education and encouragement. At Midwestern University, we take intra/oral photos on each patient. I can not stress enough how much it helps me when I am presenting a treatment plan. When I say "your upper back tooth needs a crown because it is structurally weak." It doesn't mean a lot to the patient. But when I show the intra oral photo of how much of the tooth is composite filling vs how much tooth structure is remaining...then it suddenly clicks for the patient. It such an encouraging thing to monitor the patient via photos so they can also be proud of their dental journey. Most patient appreciate all the dental work we but it is nice for them to see just far they have come with before and after photos. I will continue to use photography in my dental practice after dental school and would encourage others to do the same!

Digital Photography: Why It Matters

10:14 PM | Sep 20,2015
Photography is a very powerful way for dental students to showcase their proficiency in both technique and patient care. As Dr. Griffin suggests, pictures educate. They give patients a chance to see your past work which helps sell your current skills. As we move more and more towards a high-tech society, dentistry needs to do its part and advance with the trends.