Exceptional Photography Shows Laboratory the Bigger Picture
Specialized dental camera provides accurate data, boosts efficiency
Aaron Hoffman has been running Sunflower Dental Studio with his two partners, Eric and Troy Gooden, for just over a decade. A lot has changed since their fathers founded the studio in 1981, and the three second-generation owners have watched crown and bridge technology advance and evolve through the years.
"For a couple of years, the new technology was questionable to laboratories," says Hoffman. "But those of us who embraced the advancements found that it could either bury us or help us thrive. In our laboratory, it has definitely helped us thrive."
As Hoffman and his partners incorporated more of the new technology—from scanners to materials to cameras—into their laboratory, they found that it enhanced the efficiency of the team's workflow to a surprising extent. They were still able to create the high-quality, esthetic restorations that they prided themselves on and get them to their dentist customers on time, while also allowing their eight employees to enjoy a 4-day workweek.
"Our people are working 4 days a week, everybody's getting their healthcare benefits, and all these new technologies and materials still allow us to make a profit," Hoffman says with pride. "It's pretty sweet for everyone."
A key part of that efficiency is the use of good dental photography. Hoffman stresses the importance of having good-quality image data for each case—and a regular cell phone photo often can not cut it.
"Phones can be good, but there's a knack to them," says Hoffman. "You've got to have the right kind of light, and you've got to know the correct distance. Taking a good close-up picture is not like taking a photo of your child with Santa. There isn't a restoration depending on your holiday photographs. The patient receiving this restoration has taken off work and invested their time and money in this process, so when they come to the chair, they're counting on all of us to do our job correctly."
When the laboratory receives blurry or overexposed images, it can result in a misinterpretation of the visual data, and that turns into rework for everyone involved.
"The dentist then has to see the patient two or even three times, just because the laboratory was trying to interpret a washed-out, overexposed phone photo. And sometimes the information we need is actually shaded out because the lighting's not quite right," Hoffman explains.
Hoffman has discovered the solution to his photography woes in the Shofu EyeSpecial dental camera. Made specifically for dental photography, it is set up to provide exactly the sort of photos he needs, while still being accessible for beginners.
"When I got ours, I didn't even need to read the manual," he says. "Everything I needed to know was on the opening screen. This camera takes the knack out of it. It's fail-proof."
The Shofu EyeSpecial has multiple flash points on the face of the camera to provide ideal lighting for true-color dental photography without forcing the dentist or laboratory to invest in expensive or bulky lighting panels that would take up much-needed floor space. It boasts fast autofocusing capabilities, an anti-shake mode, and a high-performance 49-mm close-up lens. To make it even easier to use, it also comes with a large LCD touchscreen.
"Using the touchscreen feels natural, just like using a cell phone," Hoffman says. "It's very intuitive in that way, and the learning curve is minimal. Within minutes, you'll be taking better photos than you were with a phone."
Hoffman feels that the underlying strength of the EyeSpecial is in the fact that it was designed specifically for the dental industry.
"This camera wasn't made for anything else—just dentistry," he says. "All the photos we want at the laboratory, and all the photos that the dental office wants for a surgery or to document a case for a lecture, this camera can provide. That's its only purpose. This is not a ‘pictures with Santa' camera. This is strictly a dental camera for chairside and the laboratory—and while that might sound daunting, I could bring in anybody to take the photos I need with this camera."
Hoffman notes that while some laboratories might find the price tag daunting, the return on investment is entirely worth it.
For more information, contact:
Shofu Dental Corporation