avoiding remakes with effective intraoral dental photography

Few things are more frustrating than working hard on a case, feeling good about it, then upon try-in, discovering it needs to be remade. 

As your dental technician it is our job to do our best with the information given to us. We want your cases to succeed just as much as you do.

Over the years we have found that an effective way to help reduce remakes is to have the doctor supply intraoral photography. With pictures of the surrounding teeth and shade tab, we are able to create a restoration that blends into the mouth.

Intraoral photography can help capture a variety of factors such as:

  • tooth shape and character
  • color & value
  • pre-op positioning and aesthetics 

However, not all dental photography is made equal.

An intraoral photo that does not provide a complete picture of all the cosmetic factors of the case will not give the technician what they need to succeed. 

Good dental photography is not easy! It takes time and careful consideration of the details to be effective. 

Here are some key components to consider when capturing dental photography:

  1. Lighting is everything.

Like any other photograph, insufficient lighting will cause you to miss details, and too bright of lighting will distort colors and wash out the image. Be sure to check the shade tab in a variety of lightings and choose the one that gives the most accurate representation of not only the surrounding teeth, but the shade tab as well.

The lighting in this photo washes out the colors and prevents proper shade matching. Additionally the label on the shade tab is not visible.
  1. A good quality camera makes a difference!

Although cell phone cameras have drastically improved over time, you will still be far better off using a higher quality camera such as a DSLR. Being able to utilize better flashes, and more settings will improve the overall quality of the images.

It is worth it to invest in a good quality camera and a flash system that is great for close up images. It may save you from costly remakes in the future.

  1. The facial surface of the tooth must be clearly visible.

When taking an intraoral photo,  be sure to have the patient hold their lips and cheeks out of the way, or use a cheek retractor. Some patients may protest due to discomfort or embarrassment, but remind them of the importance of the lab having a full view of their surrounding teeth and mouth.

This photo does not provide the necessary information as the teeth are covered by the lips, the shade tabs are not fully visible, and the photo quality is too low.
  1. Ensure the shade tab is fully in view. 

This seems elementary, but you would be surprised how common it is in photos for shade tabs to be covered up by the doctor’s finger, the patient’s lip, or even the tooth itself. We need to see the whole tab, along with the tabs label. 

If the tooth has varying colors don’t hesitate to use multiple shades tabs that match the patient’s tooth. The more information the better.

Additionally be sure to use the proper shade guide for the material you have selected the restoration to be made from. This may require you having a variety of shade guides to pull from.

Having the right tools, such as a black contrastor, makes all the difference!
  1. Capture the value.

Capturing the value of the teeth may be the most important factor when it comes to first impressions. When you first see someone’s smile from a distance, you don’t see the fine details. You can tell right away if the teeth are too dark, too bright, or too gray. 

Using a black contraster in the patient’s mouth is incredibly helpful to focus on the value of the teeth. It removes all distracting colors in the background and provides an easy frame of reference to judge from.

  1. Take your time!

Don’t rush the process. It’s worth taking your time to ensure that you have all the details needed. Don’t hesitate to send a few options over if you are unsure. 

This photo by Dr. Buglione, DMD, MSD is a perfect example of effective intraoral photography.

Practice makes perfect, so before working with patients practice with your camera and aids on your staff or your family.

Don’t forget about custom shades!

If you have any doubts, or if it is a complex case, the best option is to send your patient in for a custom shade! Whatcom Dental Lab specializes in complex cases and can be a great resource to you and your patients. 

If you want to learn more about our custom shade process, explore our pages regarding it here:

© 2024 Whatcom Dental Lab | site by Shew Design