Frequently, dental cases present to animal hospitals for treatment of halitosis. Daily tooth brushing, although a noble idea,
is rarely practiced. Clients rarely see their pet's teeth. They bring their dog or cat to the veterinarian to have the teeth
cleaned and polished. Hopelessly effected teeth are extracted without the client ever seeing the true extent of disease or
areas of special attention for home care. Thanks to digital photography and inexpensive software, bringing your client into
his or her pet's mouth is now within every practitioner's reach.
Photo 1: Encourage the client to pose smiling with the patient.
In our practice every dental case is documented and a picture report generated using digital photography. We start in the
exam room with the smiling owner holding their pet closely. The technician takes over the digital responsibilities while the
patient is anesthetized exposing clinical images of all quadrants, radiographs, probing depths, after-treatment documentation
and final report generation. Necessary hardware includes the camera, printer and paper. Although any digital camera can produce diagnostic images, we have had success with
Sony's Mavica series, Nikon Cool Pix 4300 with the SL1 ring flash, Fuji S2 pro with ring flash, Fuji S20 pro, and Kodak's
Easyshare DX 6490 zoom digital camera.
Photo 2: This technician uses a digital camera to expose the clinical appearance of the patients' teeth and gingiva under
The Easyshare is preset for dental photography equipped with a dental close-up lens that can be mounted easily for macro views.
The beauty of the DX 6490 is its "point and shoot" ease. Little time is wasted figuring the ideal exposure and flash settings
for close ups. Whichever camera you choose, make sure it has macro photography (flower) as well as black-and-white capabilities.
Photo 3: The right mandible reveals a missing first premolar.
A Pentium 4 computer with at least 512 RAM is recommended. High-quality report paper completes the hardware requirements.
Photo 4: This missing right maxillary first incisor can be documented for the client.
The software includes a program that can accept, manipulate, and store images from the camera, digital X-ray, and scanner.
The ease of use of the program is as important as which camera you pick. I have found Photobase 4.5 (Arcsoft,
http://www.arcsoft.com/) the ideal program to use in veterinary dentistry. Adobe Photoshop 7.0 is used to place arrows and circles on images in our
practice, but less-expensive programs are available. All of our technicians have been trained to use the programs to produce
the daily reports.
Photo 5: Digital picture of the radiograph showing a root fragment and periapical pathology.
Step by step:
- Take a pre-anesthetic picture of a patient.
The client and patient are usually happy and smiling during the intake appointment. This gives a great opportunity to document
happy owners and patients. Try to get the patient and client's head as close as possible with eyes in the same horizontal
plane (Photo 1). A face picture of the pet alone still adds impact to the report in those cases where the pet is dropped off
in the morning and the client is not available for a picture.
Photo 6: Technician takes a picture of the maxillary incisors.