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.


Commenter's Profile Image Jim Orticelli
March 27th, 2013
One Eye Fi card....You never have to remove the media card from your camera. The images are instantly wirelessly transferred to the computing device of choice and there are no more image or media card's the best $89 I have ever spent!
Commenter's Profile Image Jason Tubo
March 29th, 2013
Jim's right - Eye-Fi cards work well. They can suck up a fair amount of the camera's battery; and I found the earlier versions lagged with data transfer speeds. (But the new ProX2 has Class 10 speeds.) We are quickly moving toward a fully automated workflow... snap the image, and it syncs wirelessly to your photo management software, then to the patient's record and the iPad for presentation. You can even have specific prints ready for the patient to take home at the end of their visit I've been using iPads for new patient photo presentation since the day after the first iPad was released... the technology "wow factor" for patients has worn off since tablets have become so common, but I still find it to be the most amazing instrument for an intimate shoulder-to-shoulder doctor-patient review of findings. The co-discovery wow factor never goes away.
Commenter's Profile Image Robert Jungman
June 4th, 2014
Dr. Tubo: How have you enabled the "fully automated" features? I have an Eye-Fi card that I've been pairing with an iPad for instant transmission and viewing, but I have a problem with getting it to go multiple places (patient chart, printable templates, etc) At our current settings, the camera will upload to the iPad right away (for viewing), and then when the camera is turned off, the iPad switches to Wi-Fi and uploads the photos to dropbox (which then wirelessly puts them on our desktop). The photos still need to be manually entered to the chart at a later time (or printed later). Thanks! `RJ