As the cliché goes, pictures are worth a thousand words. Over the years clinicians have incorporated various visual aids in patient communication. Visual demonstration is especially crucial in the context of discussing diagnosis and recommending treatment.
The use of an intraoral camera is one method of implementing visuals for patient communication. It is a very convenient tool but it has limitations. For certain conditions intraoral images are not optimum. For example, crowding, discoloration of teeth, esthetic concerns due to spaces or size and position discrepancy cannot be well demonstrated with an intraoral camera due to poor resolution and composition.
Showing the pictures on a tablet works a lot better. A possible workflow could look like this:
During the new patient exam series of clinical pictures are taken with DSLR camera. At the end of the exam appointment the pictures are loaded onto an iPad using the SD Card reader. Then sit the patient up and hand the iPad to the patient. The patient can get an overview of the exam/tour of the mouth as you walk them through the pictures. The biggest benefit is the feature of pinch to zoom. This feature is a powerful tool to draw their attention to areas of concern. See the accompanying video and pictures.
I find intraoral cameras are used most effectively in hygiene rooms as an adjunct to discuss clinical findings. I find that using the iPad is more effective during new patient exams.
In my practice I have used this with great success. It has helped me increase patient awareness, facilitated clear effective communication and helped differentiate the new patient experience.
Vivek Mehta DMD, FAGD, Visiting Faculty, Spear Education. Follow him on Twitter @Mehta_DMD.