Here’s a question I received from a colleague by email recently, and it’s such a good one, it’s the perfect opening for a blog entry. Thanks to Rich M. for asking (and I do welcome questions and comments, so please……leave a comment or send a question by email.).
Q: “One question on my list is whether you use imaging software in your presentations so patients can view current and proposed/expected outcomes. I’ve been warned this could be a tricky area to get into due to a gap in patient expectations and actual outcome. What do you say and what software for this purpose do you use (if you do use any)?”
A: What we have here is really 2 questions; the first is about software and a “How-To-Do……?” and the second is about patient expectations if you do a computerized smile mock-up to show them what you think the outcome will be. Let’s start with the software question first, because it’s actually the easier question to answer, although the technical aspect of making it happen is a bit trickier.
Software: If you want to make this process really easy on yourself, there are several pretty good services available that will do the smile imaging for you; while I don’t personally use them nowadays, I have used them in the past and gotten very good service:
This next service I have not used personally, but they are recommended by the DaVinci Lab, Dr. Woody Oaks, and others, so I figure they can do a good job, too.
This next service is actually a relatively easy one to implement in your office; naturally, there is a learning curve, but they offer pretty good support to get you up and running. If I were doing more cosmetic cases these days myself, I’d probably go back to using this one, but I’m having more fun doing a ton of 6MonthSmiles Adult Ortho and Laser Periodontal Therapy cases.
- Digital Dentist Cosmetic Imaging Service (The Lorin Berland Smile Style Guide/Library)
All these services have a very simplified set-up that you can implement very easily; the absolute easiest are the first 3, because all you have to do is take the pictures and email them; you usually get the completed Before/After Cosmetic Imaging back within 24-48 hours. They offer a “Rush” option as well.
Here’s another significant benefit to working with both SmileArt and SmileVision: they are both part of full-service dental labs with a focus on esthetic dentistry. Therefore, they can help not only do the Before/After Imaging, they can actually provide the crowns/veneers/bridges/etc. to bring the case to a successful conclusion.
That said, what software do I personally use nowadays? Well, if anything, I use Adobe Photoshop CS4. This is a program I use almost daily as a photographer, so it’s what I’m most comfortable with, and I know how to do the things that most patients want to see imaged. However…….for most dentists, unless you’re really serious about this, I do NOT recommend you go this route, because it has a VERY steep learning curve. It also does require the most time.
Since this post has already gotten a bit long, I’ll answer Part 2 of Rich’s question, about managing patient expectations, in my next posting.