Photo-intensive reports create impact, value in dental care

Photo-intensive reports create impact, value in dental care

May 01, 2005

Photo 1: Encourage the client to pose smiling with the patient.
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 2: This technician uses a digital camera to expose the clinical appearance of the patients' teeth and gingiva under anesthesia.
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 3: The right mandible reveals a missing first premolar.
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 4: This missing right maxillary first incisor can be documented for the client.
A Pentium 4 computer with at least 512 RAM is recommended. High-quality report paper completes the hardware requirements.

Photo 5: Digital picture of the radiograph showing a root fragment and periapical pathology.
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, 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.

Step by step:

  • Take a pre-anesthetic picture of a patient.

Photo 6: Technician takes a picture of the maxillary incisors.
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.