Intra-oral cameras

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Dr Mark HassedIntra-oral cameras have become very popular over the past 20 years. For a couple of grand you can take ultra close-up pictures of teeth and then show patients.

My question is why?

Dentists think they are proving their case and getting acceptance by taking these pictures. But, there are problems. It takes time, many patients find the photos gross and the vast majority don’t understand what they are looking at. A photo that is full of meaning to a dentist is utterly confusing to a patient. Most patients may as well be looking at a picture of Pluto for all they know.

Here’s a much simpler way to prove your case. Use your nurse.

Show her the crack or pulp exposure or whatever and comment on it: “Look at the crack running right through the tooth.” When she says “Wow! I can see it.” you have proved your case without the drawbacks of an intra-oral camera.

3 thoughts on “Intra-oral cameras

    Angelos Sourial said:
    November 29, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Dear Mark,

    I am a regular subscriber to your blog and find it really interesting and valuable. However, in this case I must say that I don’t completely agree with your point of view.
    I am a big believer in 2 statement that relate to this:
    1) a picture is worth 1000 words.
    2) seeing is believing

    My opinion is that it’s worth doing both. The eaves drop exam with your DA and then following it up with a photo to show the patient the extent of what is happening to their teeth. Describing the condition to your nurse primes the patient to expect something and so they are not surprised when they see a photo of a large crack, worn teeth or gross calculus.

    I do agree however, that close up photos of individual teeth are sometimes too difficult for the patient to get their head around and so I’ll often take a full arch or quadrant photo and then zoom in.

    I had a patient come in last week for ongoing treatment who had missed his last hygiene visit. I took a few photos including a front on shot of his teeth with calculus on them. Even though I had mentioned to my nurse to record down what I saw, he was completely shocked to realise there was that much buildup on his teeth and promptly scheduled his next hygiene visit straight away and said I’d better pick up my socks with my cleaning at home.

    Th best solution is always the patient’s own solution and seeing what’s happening in their mouth helps the patient take ownership and become more involved.
    Perhaps it’s not a matter of whether or not you use an intra-oral camera but how you use it.

    Best wishes,
    Angelos Sourial

      Dr Mark Hassed responded:
      November 29, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Angelos,
      Glad you like the blog! I think we are exactly the same. I love full arch photos but hate single tooth photos — same as you. The reason I hate single tooth photos is that patients cannot understand them. They cannot put them in context. We think they understand them but they don’t. Showing patients something they cannot understand and pointing out things they cannot see is annoying not helpful! I was recently at the optometrist and she spent 10 minutes explaining a picture of the back of my eyeball to me. It was such an annoying waste of time.

        Angelos Sourial said:
        December 1, 2014 at 9:41 pm

        Very true Mark.. Keep up the good work!

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