Intraoral cameras offer more than just meets the eye

March 21, 2012

Issue 6

Intraoral cameras should be used on every patient because doctors and patients alike can reap benefits from the images they take, Drs. Jason Luchtefeld and Frank Clayton said. They also have specific recommendations about what images they see as musts for each of their patients.

Intraoral cameras should be used on every patient because doctors and patients alike can reap benefits from the images they take, Drs. Jason Luchtefeld and Frank Clayton said. They also have specific recommendations about what images they see as musts for each of their patients.

Dr. Luchtefeld takes three images of every patient: a full face view and then in hygiene, before and after shots usually of the lower lingual area for patient education.

Dr. Clayton likes to use his intraoral camera to take full intercuspal smiles of each patient to provide him with one image of each quadrant. These images are used for patient records.

“I would take them not only for patient education but to see any problem and for insurance,” Dr. Clayton said.

Proof is in the pictures

Both doctors agree that intraoral camera images are invaluable when dealing with insurance claims. Documenting  the patient’s condition with images provides undeniable proof.

For example, if treatment by a radiograph is suggested for a patient, Dr. Clayton  backs it up with pictures so the claim can’t be denied.

“A claim is  undeniable with a picture and highlighted with an arrow on it,” Dr. Clayton said.

Instant education

Additionally, the images can help  patients instantly understand why a particular procedure is being recommended.

“The amount of information it conveys to the patient-that alone makes it a requirement,” Dr. Luchtefeld said.

“When you document a patient with a camera, when that patient calls, the front desk can pull those up and see what work has been done on the patient,” Dr. Clayton added.

“It streamlines operation without interrupting the doctor. It enhances communication.”

The images can be shown to a spouse without having to schedule a second appointment, Dr. Clayton said. E-mailing the images for others to get a better understanding of the patient’s situation also is a benefit and there’s no limit on how many times the images can be sent.

Digital confirmation

For lesions or a biopsy, intraoral cameras can be used to provide digital confirmation.

“That has been a big help,” Dr. Luchtefeld said.

“Especially when referring to another dentist or specialist,” Dr. Clayton said. “Without a doubt.”

Where to start

If you haven’t purchased an intraoral camera before, Dr. Luchtefeld recommends starting out with an inexpensive model to make sure you like it. Later, after becoming more adept at using the camera, you can upgrade to a more expensive model.

“The only way dentists are going to use this equipment is if it easily integrates with their software and the equipment  they have now,” Dr. Clayton said. “The learning curve is low. Once you figure out what it can do and how easy it is, then you can get more sophisticated.”

“I agree,” Dr. Luchtefeld added.  “So many cameras have USB it’s almost plug and play.”

Additional equipment

After regular use of an intraoral camera, a high quality color printer becomes essential, Dr. Clayton said.  The printers are able to help communicate the quality of an image.

“We print quite a bit of photos,” Dr. Clayton said.  “My personal preference is an inkjet (printer) with photo capability.”

Beyond intraoral

As you master the use of your intraoral camera, the next natural progression would be an extraoral camera, Dr. Luchtefeld said.

“There’s a natural tendency to do more,” he said. “As the confidence level improves, then you’ll want to do more and more with the cameras.”

Other advice

Explore the Internet to research which intraoral camera might be just the right one for you,  Dr. Clayton recommended. Look at the various dental sites such as dentalproductsreport.com.

Jason Luchtefeld, DMD, FAGD, FICOI, is Director of Research for the Atlanta Center for Dental Excellence (ACDE). He lectures nationally on dental implants and quality-of-life issues for dentists. He will speak on implants at ADIA in August. He practices in Robinson, Ill.

Frank Clayton, DDS, is founder and president of the ACDE. He lectures and writes on a variety of dental topics, speaks to sales professionals on marketing to dental clients, and is co-author of “The Survival Guide to Clinical Dentistry.” He practices general dentistry in Suwanee, Ga.

The ACDE is an alliance of practicing clinicians dedicated to progress in dentistry. They advise dental companies on product development and marketing, provide PACE-approved CE, and conduct unbiased product reviews for DPR.