Getting the picture

Want to change your practice? The single most powerful force that a dental office can employ is photography.

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Gary M. DeWood, DDS, MS

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: photography, SLR camera systems, mirror shots, intraoral, Dr. Gary M. DeWood.

Want to change your practice? The single most powerful force that a dental office can employ is photography. When it comes to creating emotion, a picture is worth a thousand times a thousand words. Human beings make decisions with emotion, and then justify that decision with logic. Get them to ask!

Many of the dentists I speak with understand the power of the picture, but struggle with getting the shots that will ultimately stir an emotional response from patients. I often hear complaints about the weight of cameras, the difficulty getting staff interested in participating, and the problems created when the shot requires a mirror. Yes, these are problems, but problems that can be overcome easily due to technology.

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The newest SLR camera systems, the ones that most dentists want to use in their practices, are incredibly light and easy to use. The Canon Rebel (above) has always offered a less weighty option. With the introduction of a wireless flash option, it is even lighter.

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Nikon recently introduced an 85 mm macro lens (above) that can be coupled with the D7000 and a wireless flash to create one of the lightest SLR systems. Both systems capture incredible intaoral images in both raw and jpeg formats, as well as record high def video. They will immediately have you and your team taking more pictures because the cameras are fun and easy to use, and patients like seeing pictures.

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Want to make the mirror shots easier? Get a handle on them, literally. Getting occlusal and buccal mirrors with handles changed my comfort level (and image quality) for these photos, which usually are most difficult to capture.

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When picture-taking becomes routine, you will have harnessed an asset that can take your practice to the next level. Having patients ask for dentistry is a lot of fun. Six pictures can change your life. Take them of your new patients, and whenever you take X-rays on patients of record, give them to the patients, hand the patients pens, and ask them to note anything they wonder about or that they would like to see change. Be ready to answer many questions!

Gary M. DeWood, DDS, MS, earned a DDS from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and an MS in biomedical sciences from the University of Toledo College of Medicine. He serves as executive vice president for curriculum for Spear Education, teaching and practicing in Scottsdale, Ariz. Contact him at

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