Extraoral Photography: Pictures in Dentistry

For some office visits, you may wonder why our Placerville dentist pulls out a camera. Are we creating a post for our Twitter feed? Is the Placerville Dental Group now on Instagram or Snapchat? Will I end up on Facebook? The simple answer to all of these questions is — No. Patient photos are strictly for our diagnostic use and for your information. When we take pictures, however, they can be extremely helpful for demonstrating the state of your teeth and to show the progress you have made during cosmetic or restoration dental procedures.

Please Smile Wide

Extraoral cameras are generally digital cameras adapted for dental use. Certainly, we can’t fit the camera lens in your mouth, but using mirrors, and perhaps a set of painless cheek retractors, your mouth is kept wide open and specific areas exposed to the lens. While we can use intraoral cameras, sometimes these have trouble with lens fogging due to the moist oral environment. Also, a high quality digital SLR (single-lens reflex camera — what you see through the viewfinder is what you get on the image) with a macro lens can create pictures of incredible detail — sometimes even greater than that possible with an intraoral camera. The results can expose cracks in the teeth or damage that x-ray images can miss. Instantly showing the pictures to patients also helps them in their decision-making when considering recommended procedures for specific dental problems.

Lights, Camera, Action!

A quality macro flash puts light where it needs to be, without creating reflections from saliva and moisture in the mouth. An assistant, or sometimes the patient, keeps the cheeks from getting in the way of good photography. A link to the chair-side computer monitor means that you can see the results instantly.

Extraoral Photography: Before and After

Finally, if you are having orthodontic procedures, like braces, Invisalign or Six Month Smiles, you want to see the results over time. Patients receiving cosmetic procedures or dental implants also like to see their old smile compared to their new smile. While our dentists and staff members might not have imagined themselves as photographers when they were dental students, taking pictures of our Placerville patients adds one more tool to our diagnostic and consultation services.

Jan 23, 2014 | Dental Profession


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