Digital Cameras for Dental Photography

Dental professionals need to take pictures and sometimes videos of patient’s teeth and oral cavity for a variety of reasons. A picture often is an excellent descriptive tool the dentist shares with a patient as well as with other dental providers and specialists. They may be shared with medical providers too, if appropriate. The images and video become a part of the patient’s electronic health record (EHR). This allows the dental professional to track progress for future dental care and monitor oral health.

“Digital dental photography is an exceptional tool for communication, diagnosis, and documentation. So much of what is possible today with dental treatment hinges strongly upon dentists’ ability to fully capture the necessary diagnostic information to properly educate their patients” (2011).

Selecting the right digital camera and/or video camera is as important as being able to use that camera effectively. There are many choices and cost varies depending on options. Of course, being tech-savvy is always advantageous when deciding on new technological devices. But, don’t let that interfere with making the right decisions for patient care. Seek advice from a trusted and tech-savvy friend or colleague!

“SLRs (digital single-lens reflex versus point-and-shoot cameras) best suited for dental photography should have the following features: true macro lens available with a focal length of approximately 100 mm; dual point and ring macro flashes available; customizable white balance; RAW capability; and an APS-C (“crop”)-sized sensor (full-frame sensor cameras will also suffice)” (2011).

Being able to use the camera regardless of the capabilities and options is necessary. They might have somewhat of a learning curve, but it will be well worth the effort when imaging improves treatment planning.

“Good dental photography is primarily the result of practice, technique, and dedication” (2011).

The images and videos can become a permanent and important part of the patient’s EHR and dental care. The better the pictures, the more effective treatment planning can occur. The images and video can be shared with other medical and dental professionals in the delivery of health care.

Lessons learned:

• Digital photography and video play an important role in managing a patient’s dental health.
• Select a camera that meets your needs and is customizable to a variety of situations.
• Pictures can be used to capture historical events to plan future care.
• Practice with your photographic and video technology to become proficient.
• Imaging can improve diagnostics and treatment planning.

McLaren, E. A. DDS, MDC, and Schoenbaum, T. DDS. (2011, Nov./Dec.) Digital photography enhances diagnostics, communication, and documentation. Compendium, 32 (4); 36-38.