Patients often ask why we take photos, and especially why we take so many. So for a quick summary of why you, as a dentist, should use digital photography in your practice, here you go:
1. Dental Insurance – it’s hard for an insurance adjuster to deny a claim of a tooth with a big hole in it from doing the endo, or showing the huge cavity, etc.
2. Case Presentation – whether using the iPad, PowerPoint, or whatever, you want an easy way to show patients what is going on in their mouths, whether it’s a single cracked tooth, periodontitis, bruxism, etc.
3. Diagnosis – it is IMO impossible to properly diagnose and treatment plan complex cases without good photography.
4. CYA – it’s unfortunate that I had to do so, but I have avoided several problems with the NC Board regarding patient complaints because I had a case thoroughly documented start-to-finish, thereby eliminating the patient’s ability to say I did poor dentistry.
5. Tracking Your Work Over Time – with keyword tagging, you can label your pictures and later do searches based on them to follow the success (hopefully!) of your treatment over years and decades.
6. Self-Improvement – it’s kind of tough to hide from yourself when the pictures are on a 24″ HD monitor or bigger. Pictures don’t lie, and I know that I am motivated to do better when I take a picture and find some fault (however nitpicky) that I didn’t see before dismissing the patient.
7. Lab Communication – it’s a LOT easier to communicate with a lab about shade, contour, etc. using high-quality photographs than trying to draw it out on paper.
8. Showcase Your Work to Patients – it’s far more effective to show patients considering some treatment photos of YOUR work than of someone else’s, especially on the Web.
Scott Behnan says
I would like to know how to use a template to drag 8 photos to create the standard orthodontic montage.
Scott, I’ve had that on my list of articles to write for a long time – I’ll take your comment as a kick in the rear to do it. Check back tonight (Sat. 10/13/12) for a new instructional video on this very subject. 🙂
The good news – it’s really not hard at all.
Scott – sorry about the delay, I was finishing a CE course in Florida and didn’t get time to do the tutorial before having to return, but it’s in progress. Turns out there is one thing that isn’t as easy to do (adding patient information text), but I still think I have a way around it.
Hogan Allen says
Thanks so much for the comment on my site. This is a great article. We work with The Nash Institute (Dr. Ross Nash) and he completely believes in the use of photography. Thanks and keep up the good work!
Hogan, you’re most welcome! You know, I never knew that you work with the Nash Institute; I was a Faculty Mentor there a number of years ago (before the wife and kids) and really enjoyed it. If y’all ever need anything, please don’t hesitate to call, and please tell Ross that I said Hi!
Dr. Steven Ghim says
These 8 points I would call the “8 Commandments.” Dental photos serve so many purposes. So many times when I didn’t take photos, I wished I had for numerous reasons. It may have been a case that really turned out great but I didn’t have the pre-ops for comparison. I can’t turn the clock back 🙁 …Part of it is just being able to go back and learn from a prior case or even being able to show a patient with similar issues what can be done for them. A great educational tool using your own work in lieu of other commercially bought presentation systems!! What has been very useful is the effectiveness for lab communication especially with shade taking. A digital camera is a great investment for the office. It will pay for itself!!