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3 Steps to Transition into Using Dental Photography

dental photographyWe’ve all heard the cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  Enter dental photography…it’s no surprise that by capturing images of our patients, we are better able to co-diagnose oral health and lack there-of; predict skeletal discrepancies; anticipate airway problems; maintain a record of the patients’ condition over time; improve communications with our patients, our referring doctors, our team members, and our lab; and simply better treatment plan.

Even with all these reasons to utilize dental photography, the task can seem daunting.  Here are a few suggestions to ease the transition.

  1. Purchase the best quality digital SLR your budget allows.  I strongly suggest buying your camera from a company that understands our professional needs.  Check out photomed.net.  You receive a complete camera kit that is set to maximize dental photography, you have unlimited technical support, AND you get the benefit of a loaner program should your camera need repair.

  2. Before taking the first photo, create a system for managing your camera and your images.  This task is often more difficult than actually taking the photos.  The system should be detailed and tailored to your office.  Where will you store the camera and mirrors/retractors?  Who will replace/charge the batteries?  How will you identify the patient?  How will you know the start and end of a series?  When will images be removed from the media card?  What computer(s) will be used to download images?   What is the process to download photos?  Where will the images be stored?  Are your images backed up routinely?  Think it through and WRITE IT DOWN.

  3. Now it is time to train your team. Schedule an appropriate amount of time to review why you are taking photos, share your camera/management system and practice taking photos. Volume 8: Digital Dental Photography of the Masters Library Series is a great staff tutorial. The initial training session may be several hours.

    Schedule occasional refresher sessions as needed. Additional patient time may be required until your photographer becomes proficient.  Give one another quality feedback.  Remember that taking quality photos is a skill that must be practiced and honed.   

Good luck and happy clicking.

Oh, one more tip:  delete photos from the camera that you do not wish to keep. It is more time consuming to do it after images are downloaded…research taught me.

Dr. Johnson grew up in a small coal-mining town in Kentucky. She excelled academically and eventually earned her doctorate from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. Today, she is one of only a few dentists to be appointed as an Academic Advisor for the prestigious Dawson Center for the Advancement of Dentistry where she assists in training other dentists regarding new clinical techniques and advances. Dr. Johnson and her husband, Jason Johnson (an IT professional), have been married five years and have a beautiful daughter.