By – Dr Rohit Shah
Photography has always been a passion for many. With the advent of DSLR cameras, advanced smartphone cameras, digital technology processing and popular and instant photo sharing applications like Instagram, photography has the attention and importance that it actually deserves.
While photography may appear to be as easy as clicking a button, but actually it is much more than that. The key remains to compose the picture and applying the controlling features of the camera to good effect to get the ideal picture.
The importance of Photography and its applications has invaded all possible fields such as industrial photography, product photography and is increasing every day.
You must be wondering, how an art form such as photography and a part of medical science such as dentistry combine? Dentistry is primarily a science of cosmetically restoring teeth to give it a natural and aesthetic look and feel. Now the consensus remains that Dentistry is actually a work of art and dentists are artists. Hence the realization of the need to capture this work of art has led to the growing use of Photography in Dentistry.
Photography can be employed by the dentist primarily and/or their assistants/ observers or even the relatives or friends of patients to click the required pictures. This can be done either for record keeping purposes or to refer it as a case study.
Photos from front and side views of the patient and/or of the treatment can be clicked, which can also include videos of the procedure being carried out as well. Such data is captured using a good smartphone camera or even better, employing the manual mode of DSLR. Images clicked is stored in external hard disks through a laptop/desktop USB (primarily because of the large size of the images). Now, it’s possible to even send a copy of the same to the patient immediately using WhatsApp or email. With the advent of implantology, almost all steps in the implant procedure can now be captured and shared with the patient instantly.
Dental photography is primarily close-up photography and hence requires an advanced macro lens; earlier ring flash and now recently even twin flash to adequately illuminate the area and record good quality professional images.
It can be done to record before, during and after treatment pictures and even video shoot the entire procedure for future references. Such imaging is usually carried out in a dental office, clinic, dental hospital, at a conference and even in a workshop as well. Primarily any place where the dentist is treating a patient can be the location to utilize photography effectively.
Dental photography is essential to documentation and record keeping and hence may soon become a medico-legal requirement as evidence. Photography of special and rare cases (after masking the patient’s identity) is a good tool for research to be shared among fellow colleagues and even social media for effective learning.
Good photography can enable its publication in reputed journals and even books including textbooks for dental students to learn from. It is also showcased in lectures for the information of fellow colleagues; aesthetically done and captured dental work could also be displayed in dental exhibitions. Posters could be made using such pictures and displayed in the clinic or in hospitals depicting something novel for the viewers, fellow colleagues and patients to learn from.
Thus photography remains a useful tool to be effectively employed in all aspects of dental practice. Advances in photography (digital smile designing) has now led to the execution of filtered, modified and digitally edited images through the use of software to showcase our patients, their treatment outcomes (read – end results) even before starting with their actual treatment. Hence various aspects of photography including lighting, controlling camera features and software based photo editing and sharing should be mastered to get the most of these techniques in our artwork of dentistry.
Dr Rohit Shah, BDS MDS PGDMLS is a senior Periodontist and Implantologist based out of Mumbai. He is also a Teacher, Consultant, Clinician and a Surgeon by profession, specializing in Periodontal surgeries, Dental Implants and a foodie by passion. He is a part of the Editorial Board in a few national dental journals and has numerous publications to his credit. Currently, he is working as an Associate Professor in Periodontology at Terna Dental College, Navi Mumbai. He is one of our esteemed students at The Lifestyle Portal Online Writing Program.
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