Role of Digital Photography in Dentistry

There is usually a tiny difference between a good dentist and the greatest in dental practice. Aside from ability, experience, and a modern clinic, using modern technology, like digital pictures, can help you and you're practice stand out from the crowd. More on the significance of dental photography for dentists can be found here.

Despite the latest digital photography technology, most dental practitioners are hesitant to employ it in their everyday practice for various reasons, including a lack of knowledge about photographic procedures and equipment, a reluctance to disrupt the flow, digital imaging in dentistry and, in many cases, the costly cost.

How does clinical photography improve your dentistry?

Taking outstanding clinical images of your work allows you to reflect on previous cases and treatments. The same ethos can be applied to clinical pictures as you would to a post-operative scan of your root canal procedure. Taking an excellent pre-operative clinical photo and then a post-operative photo from the same viewpoint allows you to detect flaws and places that need to be adjusted or improved. For example, a bit of flash left over from a posterior composite or line angle corrections after finishing an anterior composite. Even with loupes, the naked eye sometimes misses these minute features, but macro photography is ruthless and makes these tiny details shine out.

These minor improvements to your job make a significant difference. By duplicating comparable work, you may identify and address errors earlier, making your working time more efficient and your work quality much higher. As a result, you can deliver more predictable outcomes for your patients.

Camera Settings and Accessories

Clinical dental photography demands a very specialized setup for all DSLR cameras. By taking dental photography classes or acquiring a camera from a company specializing in systems tailored for ideal dentistry, one can learn proper exposure setup and flash calibration (PhotoMed, Dine Corporation, and Norman Camera are three examples). These environments can be daunting for a novice operator. The authors advise using manual mode on the camera and lens since it allows complete control over the exposure features of the aperture or f/stop, shutter speed, ISO, and magnification (Table). The process is substantially streamlined by using these suggested settings, which are suitable for most clinical circumstances.







F20-22 to f/32

Shutter Speed

1/125 - 200

1/125 - 200






1:2 or 1:3

Choosing the right equipment

Choosing the ideal camera for dental photography and becoming familiar with its fundamentals are the first requirements for high-quality clinical photos. While some dentists prefer to purchase a DSLR camera, which is the best camera for dental photography, others utilize their high-tech cell phones. In fact, given the advanced technology in today's smartphones, most professionals choose to employ mobile photography in their work.

Dental photography systems using DSLR technology are regarded as reliable. Intraoral photography is best done with a camera equipped with a macro lens (85-105 mm) and an external ring light in front of the lens. These cameras have considerably superior image quality, operating speed, and field depth than point-and-shoot cameras.

DSLR cameras are smaller, lighter, and more affordable than the myth that they are challenging to operate. DSLR cameras can improve your dentistry practice even in the most basic settings!

Other dental photography accessories can be used in conjunction with your arsenal's fundamental tools to improve the sharpness and clarity of your clinical images.

Cheek Retractors

The next item to buy is a cheek retractor after you have your camera set up. As the name implies, these help your intraoral photography turn out better by retracting the labial and buccal mucose from the photographic field.

Retractors are also helpful for drawing other soft tissues out of the way and letting a lot more light into the mouth cavity, which enhances visibility. Cheek retractors come in various sizes, plastic or metal compositions, and single or double ends.

Intraoral Mirrors

Without intraoral mirrors, dental photography taken inside the mouth is insufficient. With the help of these mirrors, dentists can capture photographs of the buccal, lingual, and occlusal views that would be unattainable with direct photography. Different sizes of intraoral mirrors are available so that you may get good-quality pictures of both adults and toddlers.

Mirror fogging frequently occurs while shooting intraoral pictures. It is advised to warm the mirror in a water bath or use the three-way syringe to blast air over the mirror to prevent fogging. Some intraoral reflectors come with handles to make taking pictures easier.

To prevent scratching on the surface, always store your intraoral mirrors in a bubble wrap bag or other protective covering. Don't combine it with other musical instruments.


Contrastor kits are a need if you want to improve dental photography in your office. For each area of the oral cavity that needs to be photographed—the buccal, occlusal, anterior, palatal, or lingual—contrastor objects are accessible. The main screen and the attached handle for convenient holding are both contrasted. There are both adult and kid sizes of contrast lenses available.

Today's silicone-coated contrast agents are readily sterilizable in your clinic's autoclave. These contrast agents are positioned behind the teeth that need to be photographed along with a retractor and an intraoral mirror. They offer a clear background that makes recognizing or distinguishing an early carious lesion or staining easier. Contractors provide the backdrop, so it is easier to visualize the object. Contractors help bring out small changes in oral structures in pictures, from occlusal bite analysis to gingival health.

Tips for Quality Dental Photography

The following advice will help you achieve the highest caliber dental photos for your practice:

  • Always utilize cheek retractors when taking clinical photographs.
  • Bring the camera up close to the subject to focus on the structure you want to shoot.
  • Using mirrors for dental photography and sufficient lighting in the operatory. This made it possible to see clearly and with enough intraoral light.
  • To avoid fogging, warm the mirror or blow air on it.
  • It is advised to take as many photos as you can. The undesired ones can be permanently deleted later.
  • You can use the manual option for the camera's aperture and shutter speed once you've mastered the fundamentals of dentist photography.
  • While taking pictures in portrait mode, use a light diffuser, reflector, and preferably a background that won't draw attention.
  • When taking mirror images, keep in mind to flip the image in the proper alignment before utilizing it in a presentation deck or a photo album.
  • To preserve consistency, keep the magnification and angle of view constant from right to left.

Take Away

Today, dental practices cannot function without dental photography. Dental photography improves patient care delivery and raises the profile of your dental clinic. Clinical photography can also be used for legal documentation, educational reasons, publication, patient communication, and team communications, as well as for marketing and patient education.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)