How to use your Mobile Phone for Dental Photography?

– Dr. Deepa Ravichandran

Mobile Phone for Dental Photography?

The trend of using one’s mobile for dental photography is catching on quickly, mainly because –

  1. It is relatively cost effective, especially as compared to a DSLR. For someone who is beginning out on a fresh dental practice, this seems to be a wiser option to start with.
  2. The equipment is already available on hand.
  3. Any extra armamentarium is relatively inexpensive.

What are the items needed for Mobile Dental Photography (MDP)?

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Items needed for MDP!

Why the need for MDP?

Experienced dentists know this – dental practice is not about dental practice alone. It’s also about convincing the patients and avoiding legal hassles. Whether you have resumed practice after a while, or are just starting out, one fact does not change – the importance of documentation.

Documentation is important to –

  1. Maintain a record of the journey that both you and the patient undertook, from start to finish, especially in complex cases.
  2. Aid in case presentations.
  3. In case of any dispute, to provide evidence.

Step-by-step protocol for MDP

1. Clip-on Selfie Light

When the flash of the mobile camera is used for intra oral pictures, it bounces off the surface of the teeth and gives an eerie glow, which cannot be edited out, completely destroying the purpose of the image.

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Never use flash!

2. Contrastors

These are used to give the illusion of a black background intraorally. As the name suggests, they provide the backdrop for a perfect contrast between the pink and the white in the mouth.

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Contrastors are essential!

3. Intra-oral Mirrors

The cheap plastic intra-oral mirrors fog easily, do not provide adequate clarity and get scratched in no time. It would be wiser to invest in good quality glass intra-oral mirrors, as this will end up being a necessity in day-to-day practice. They come in two sizes usually, small and medium. When not in use, they should be stored carefully, to avoid accidental damage and unwanted scratches, which in turn will affect the quality of the image. After usage, they need to be cleaned, as we are using it in a patient’s mouth. A little cotton, damp with isopropyl alcohol should do the trick.

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Intra-oral mirrors are a must!

4. Macro Lens

These are needed when you want to capture the macro texture, be it stippling of gingiva, texture on crowns, composites, dentures etc. The “macro mode” on most mobile cameras is sufficient, but for more high-end photography, you may want to use an external macro lens.

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Macro lens is integral!

5. Three Angles

For full protocol & case documentation / presentation, all three angles are a must, especially those cases involving both anterior and posterior teeth along with any kind of occlusal rehabilitation. These three angles are –

  • frontal
  • left lateral and
  • right lateral.

This is to understand the pre-op occlusion present, overjet, overbite and inclination of upper anteriors.

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Three angles must!

6. Good Photo Editor

There are plenty of photo editors available. Basic editing includes cropping out all unwanted bits among other parameters. Too many creative liberties are frowned upon, as these photographs are meant to be professional in nature and not for recreation.

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Tips for photo editing!

7. Monochrome

This is a very important concept in dental photography showing an esthetic match of direct / indirect restorations with adjacent natural teeth.

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Importance of monochrome!

By The Way…

All the above photographs are of actual cases that I have worked on, though not of the same patient, as I have used different photographs to illustrate different points. They have all been clicked by me, using my mobile phone and the above-mentioned armamentarium. Mastering MDP takes a fair amount of time, effort, patience and skill, as with any new activity. Again, the photo collage with the images and text has been done by me. The images should be visually attractive – presentation matters!

Every well clicked photograph tells a story! What’s yours? Happy clicking!

Watch this amazing video by Mobile dental Photography

You can also read: Smile Designing : Documentation To Execution by Dr Sanah Syed

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Dr. Deepa Ravichandran
Dr. Deepa Ravichandran, a Prosthodontist since almost 10yrs, in private practice under the helm of "Dental Park", is a writer, avid photographer, artist and teacher to NEET aspirants.

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