Dental Photography – The Basic Information that You Need


What if we tell you that there is a simple, yet a highly effective method that it can be used not only to document the work done but also, teach the students, promote the dental practice and inform the patients using visualization methods? We are talking about the use of dental photography – an interesting way to keep a record of the progress of procedures that require longer than a usual period to complete, show off the work done and possibly educate millions of students worldwide. In addition, dental photography can be used by dentists to promote their practice and show their patients an example of previous cases showing off how effective work looks like when completed. In the following, we will explain everything that you need to know about dental photography.

What should you know about dental photography?

We all have used our cameras to do a picture or two, have we not? So how about using our cameras to do a picture or two in the dental practice? A camera can be used to do a “before” and “after” shots of the patient, documenting [i] the progress that has been made, so that the patient can actually see the changes that have been made from a different perspective than the one when they look at themselves in the mirror. As a patient, you will benefit greatly from the use of dental photography because you can actually see what is planned to do for you in the future as well as how it will look like at the end. This is especially important for patients with similar or same dental issues where their dentist can show [ii] photographs that show off the final expected results. By seeing actual photographs of other patients, you are seeing in an actual proof that can tell you a lot about the way that your dentist’s abilities. Do not worry – dental photography is a painless, non-invasive method similar to the act of taking photos on a daily basis. One important thing to remember though – if your dentist wants to take photos of your case, he/she is required to ask for written approval – nobody is allowed to take any photos of you without your approval. This is important for both dentists and patients to know. Dental photography is an innovative [iii]way for dentists to promote their practice. Last but not least, dental photography allows dental students to learn [iv] so much from looking at actual cases, where they can notice the abnormalities, identify the procedures that have been done and look at the results a bit closer without the need to look at the actual patient. So by letting your dentist to document your case, think about all the students that can also use those photographs and learn from them. All that the dentist needs are a camera that allows taking both profile and full-face photographs as well as close-ups of the patient. Next, the photograph would need some editing done in the terms of adjusting, cropping and rotating your photograph to make it appear more presentable to the viewer. And that is it!
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More reasons to use dental photography

Besides documentation of the work and study purpose, there are some other reasons for using dental photography. [v]Here are some more reasons to use dental photography:

· The intraoral photographs provide a static and in-depth look at the condition of the patient and the patient’s condition can be easily compared with other patients’ records.
· The dental photography also helps in legal documentation. A malpractice lawsuit is a very serious issue for dentists. A proper documentation helps the dentists to help a mistreated incident and also defend a dentist who has been providing appropriate treatment to their patients.
· Insurance companies in many cases require the radiographs, periodontal charting, and other narratives before providing the benefits, according to the claim. A photograph can be used in insurance verification.
· Using the high-quality photos is an excellent way of communicating with a specialist for getting valuable suggestions on the tasks to be done ahead.
· The before and after photographs of patients is a professional way of advertising.

Parts of Dental Photography

There are two parts of dental photography, and they are intraoral and extraoral dental photography. In order to do dental photography correctly, you need some basic tools.

· You need a camera with the capacity to take both full-face photographs and intraoral close-up photos
· Two retractors sets and two intraoral photographic mirrors sets. You also need an occlusal mirror and a lateral mirror.

Make sure that you capture enough preoperative pictures and postoperative photos to document your work for the future study.

In order to submit a clinical case to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, you need 12 preoperative and postoperative photos. [vi]For capturing the best photographs, we suggest using SLR cameras, such as the Nikon D90 and Canon T3i with a 100 mm macro lens. The patient should also be positioned in a proper manner to capture high-quality images.

After you are done with capturing enough photos, it is also necessary to edit them. There are plenty of photo editing applications, such as Photoscape, Picasa, GIMP, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and so on. These excellent pieces of software can help you with photo editing task.

You can edit your photos by cropping, adjusting exposure, rotating, and more for enhancing the quality of your images. The images that you capture will look great after editing the images, even if you have a very little photography skill.

Mistakes to avoid

The dental photography is an excellent way to document the work. However, the mistakes in capturing photos can ruin the whole effort of the practitioner[vii]. Here are some of the common mistakes that are often seen in dental photography.

· Undesirable exposure: The lightning plays a crucial role in determining the quality of an image. A poor lighting can lead to a poor photo. The depth of field, improper lighting, and shutter speed should be understood by the photographer to capture a decent image.
· Inappropriate angle: The camera must be positioned at 90 degrees. Framing an image from an inappropriate angle will lead to an improper shot.
· Improper framing: The mirror and retractors must be positioned properly for capturing a nice photo. If not done correctly, the photographer will not be able to capture the image properly.
· Incorrect magnification: A proper magnification is needed to capture a decent image of a patient. The proper magnification ratios are 1:1, 1:2, and 1:10.


Dental photography is an innovative, safe and easy to use method to document the results after a completed dental procedure. It is a method that can be used for multiple purposes including promotion, education, and documentation of achieved results. Dental photography is introducing an opportunity for self-promotion, and education not to mention the opportunity for patients to see the changes that have been made from a different perspective.


[i] What is activated charcoal good for? Benefits and uses, Healthline
[ii] Activated charcoal: teeth whitening secret or total scam? DailyBurn
[iii]Brooks JK, Bashirelahi N, Reynolds MA. Charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices. Journal of the American Dental Association 2017 Sep;148(9):661-70. Doi: 10.1016/j.adaj.2017.05.001
[iv]Greenwall L, Wilson NHF. Charcoal toothpastes: what we know so far. Pharmaceutical Journal 2017 Jul
[v] Is it safe to whiten your teeth with activated charcoal toothpaste? Health 


[i] Casaglia A, de Dominicis P, Arcuri L, Gargari M, Ottaria L, (2015), Dental photography today. Part 1: basic concepts, Oral & Implantology 8(4): 122–129

[ii] Sharland MR, Burke FJ, McHugh S, Walmsley AD, (2004), Use of dental photography by general practitioners in Great Britain, Dental Update 31(4):199-202

[iii] Desai V, Bumb D, (2013), Digital dental photography: A contemporary revolution, Inetrnation Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry 6(3): 193–196

[iv] Gopi N, (2017), Essentials of dental photograpy, The Journal of Indian Prosthodontic Society 17(2): 107–108

[v] Reasons to use Dental Photography, Albert Yoo, Dental Economics

[vi] Photographic Documentation and Evaluation in Cosmetic Dentistry, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry

[vii] Common Mistakes in Dental Photography, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry


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