A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
The dental profession has been around in one form or another for thousands of years yet it arguably has seen its greatest advances in the last 50 years, technologically, in the last 25, with advances in scientific research, dental materials, and techniques. However, similar to other health care fields, as well as industrial and manufacturing sectors, dentistry has benefited from borrowing new and emerging technologies from other areas for its’ advancement.
One such example is the use of photography in dentistry. Surprising to most people, successful dentistry is actually made up of a complex myriad of factors that the dental team must consider when treating a patient. In addition to the teeth, there are hard tissues like the jawbones, and jaw joints; there are soft tissues such as the gums, lips, tongue, cheeks and throat. There are the muscles and lymph nodes and glands.
A person’s smile is a combination of all of these parts working together. In addition to this, the tooth form and function, shape, position, arrangement, alignment, texture, translucency, reflectivity, comfort are all factors to consider.
When discussing dental concerns with a patient, there are invariably several different treatment options that can be explored and explained each with their own costs, risks and benefits, however, it is easy for the details of each to become lost in translation. With all of the advancements in dental materials, it is now imperative that patients are able to fully understand what modern dentistry is able to achieve, keeping in mind the patient’s own unique circumstances.
The use of both extraoral and intraoral cameras has proven invaluable in the last quarter century. The term ‘co-diagnosis’ has emerged that basically means, by looking at digital photographs, both the patient and dental provider can evaluate and discuss healthy versus diseased tissues or irregularities and deviations from the accepted norm. Pictures can be used along with pertinent dialogue to educate the patient as to what conditions may be present, what treatment options exist and could look like, as well as what possible outcomes that could be expected without proper care.
Before and after photos are also an excellent marketing tool that enables the dental team to showcase their collective skills as experienced by other patients in the dental practice.
Other benefits of the use of dental photography include communication with dental and lab specialists, for more complex cases, as well as aiding dental insurance providers in approving predetermination claims thereby speeding up and streamlining treatment acceptance for patients and reimbursement for dental fees charged.
They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and it has never been more accurate when describing the field of dentistry.