Importance of Photography in a Dental Practice

Most practitioners agree that photography is an invaluable part of dentistry. Many of us want to implement it but stop at the many hurdles that it could present. In short, it is the best way for us to cover ourselves and maintain a consistent record of everything. The problem is there are a few things to take note of:

  • Finding and purchasing the right equipment
  • The cost of implementing new technology
  • The learning curve
  • Interruption in the workflow
  • Time added to take a full photography series

Now, this might seem like it is a lot, but there are a few main reasons why photography is important.

The top reasons for implementing photography:

  • Diagnosis and treatment planning

Photos are an integral part of patient records. They allow for a visual identification of all the cases.

  • Legal documentation

Any preexisting pathology or trauma to the teeth will be evident on the photos and these records can be used in the case of a dispute.

  • Specialist consultation

Sending a specialist a referral form is great but having photos accompany it takes the consultation to a whole new level.

  • Insurance verification

When you have a crown denied for a huge amalgam that does not show on the radiograph, the tooth photo is very handy.

  • Lab communication

Most lab technicians will tell you that having photos helps them understand what you are trying to achieve for your patient and therefore help you get a better result.

  • Patient education and communication

We live in a digital age where visuals rule. We understand and learn better when we see a photo. Showing your patient before and after shots are not only beauty pics, but they heighten your credibility.

  • Memory Aids

Patients and practitioners tend to forget how the patient presented originally. Having photos is an easy way to show all the improvements.

Maybe this will help hammer in the importance of pictures:

I decided to take photographs of every single patient. It was a noble idea drilled into me by my time in the Kois Center, and I was very excited to implement it. It worked for a week or two but we started running late. The DSLR card was getting full and we were not storing the photos on time for use it in the patient chart and present it to the patient.

As weeks passed, we realized it was impossible to add 10 minutes to every new patient exam and still be profitable.

I was about to give up on the idea of having photos when a patient called our office and said: “Your hygienist broke my tooth”. We obviously got worried and asked the patient to come right away. Luckily, we had taken photos of that patient. I tried tirelessly to find a fracture on the lower anterior teeth. Finally, I put the photos on the screen and ask the patient to point for the fracture. He points to the calculus stuck between his lower central incisors. I took a new photo and showed him that this was calculus. I realized that there was no way to convince him had I not had the photos.

This experience convinced me and the team that photography could save the day but it did not change the fact that it was time consuming and difficult.

When we created Oryx, we wanted to make documentation easy so we are not getting the photos only on complex cases, or cases that we want to present or publish. We wanted photos to be part of our every day documentation.

We launched an iPhone app that allows dentists and team members to take intra-oral and extra oral photos in 2 minutes. The photos are encrypted and nothing gets stored on the iPhone or iPod. This makes our photography application fully Hipaa compliant.

Most practitioners agree that photography is an invaluable part of dentistry. Many of us want to implement it but stop at the many hurdles that it could present. In short, it is the best way for us to cover ourselves and maintain a consistent record of everything. The problem is there are a few things to take note of:

  • Finding and purchasing the right equipment
  • The cost of implementing new technology
  • The learning curve
  • Interruption in the workflow
  • Time added to take a full photography series

Now, this might seem like it is a lot, but there are a few main reasons why photography is important.

The top reasons for implementing photography:

  • Diagnosis and treatment planning

Photos are an integral part of patient records. They allow for a visual identification of all the cases.

  • Legal documentation

Any preexisting pathology or trauma to the teeth will be evident on the photos and these records can be used in the case of a dispute.

  • Specialist consultation

Sending a specialist a referral form is great but having photos accompany it takes the consultation to a whole new level.

  • Insurance verification

When you have a crown denied for a huge amalgam that does not show on the radiograph, the tooth photo is very handy.

  • Lab communication

Most lab technicians will tell you that having photos helps them understand what you are trying to achieve for your patient and therefore help you get a better result.

  • Patient education and communication

We live in a digital age where visuals rule. We understand and learn better when we see a photo. Showing your patient before and after shots are not only beauty pics, but they heighten your credibility.

  • Memory Aids

Patients and practitioners tend to forget how the patient presented originally. Having photos is an easy way to show all the improvements.

Maybe this will help hammer in the importance of pictures:

I decided to take photographs of every single patient. It was a noble idea drilled into me by my time in the Kois Center, and I was very excited to implement it. It worked for a week or two but we started running late. The DSLR card was getting full and we were not storing the photos on time for use it in the patient chart and present it to the patient.

As weeks passed, we realized it was impossible to add 10 minutes to every new patient exam and still be profitable.

I was about to give up on the idea of having photos when a patient called our office and said: “Your hygienist broke my tooth”. We obviously got worried and asked the patient to come right away. Luckily, we had taken photos of that patient. I tried tirelessly to find a fracture on the lower anterior teeth. Finally, I put the photos on the screen and ask the patient to point for the fracture. He points to the calculus stuck between his lower central incisors. I took a new photo and showed him that this was calculus. I realized that there was no way to convince him had I not had the photos.

This experience convinced me and the team that photography could save the day but it did not change the fact that it was time-consuming and difficult.

When we created Oryx, we wanted to make documentation easy so we are not getting the photos only on complex cases, or cases that we want to present or publish. We wanted photos to be part of our everyday documentation.

We launched an iPhone app that allows dentists and team members to take intra-oral and extraoral photos in 2 minutes. The photos are encrypted and nothing gets stored on the iPhone or iPod. This makes our photography application fully HIPAA compliant.

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