What is the number one communication tool a dentist can use with their lab? It’s not something that can be written down or verbally communicated; it’s a camera. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a camera provides the information necessary for labs to succeed. With high-quality case pictures, your lab can create the best esthetics without seeing the patient, giving you the best chance for a successful restoration. Here are a few tips for taking better case pictures.
Retract the patient.
If you don’t retract the patient, their lips may get in the way and cast shadows that gray out teeth. Make sure you always retract the patient for pictures of both anterior and posterior teeth.
Shoot different angles.
Shooting images straight on is good, but shooting different angles provides an additional level of detail. After you take a picture straight on, take one pointing straight down at a 45-degree angle. This will pick up the incisal translucency of anterior, upper teeth.
Avoid using your phone.
Pictures taken on your phone are better than nothing, but they won’t give you characterization details like white spots and translucency.
Invest in an SLR camera.
SLR cameras can be customized for dental photography and can be delivered to you ready to go preprogrammed with the proper lens and flash right out of the box. We recommend purchasing cameras from PhotoMed. (Mention our name for a discount!)
Capture the Dentin shade.
The Dentin shade is a critical component of all-ceramic restorations. Take the shade of the patient before and after prep, holding the shade tab right next to the tooth or writing down the number if you don’t have shade guide tabs.
Consider background and lighting.
Put a black background behind the tooth to better reflect light and capture translucency. And don’t forget to turn off the operatory light, which can blow out image details.
Send digital files.
Send case pictures with the Rx, but don’t print them out. Printed pictures lose clarity, making them less accurate. The lab wants to see what the camera sees, not your printer. And don’t forget to label the images. You can include them on a memory stick, which we will return with the case.