A Photograph Is Worth a Thousand Words
Knowledge and continuing education are consistently central when discussing the improvement of laboratory technique and advancements in our work, yet one essential element is too often overlooked: the importance of photographic information for communication. One of the soundest investments for technicians and dentists alike is a quality camera, the cost of which is minimal in light of the vast benefits you will discover and experience.
I could not agree more with the idea that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” As technicians, the one persistent obstacle we find on a daily basis is the lack of communication or the “disconnect” we experience trying to decipher the scope of our patients’ wants and needs. When used properly, photographic information alleviates much of these difficulties and vastly improves the quality of and patient satisfaction with our work. Photographic technology, advancements, and simplicity can often provide the basic esthetic and functional and additional entry points. parameters that the case may otherwise lack.
For those either already using photographic material or planning to implement it, I have a few suggestions. First, capture the “macro” view—the face of our client; after all, patient satisfaction is always key. Comprehension of the tooth position in the face for any restorative process is paramount. Next, the “micro” view is vital. Color communication, tooth angulations, and embrasure spaces must not be ignored. This attention to detail aids both dentist and patient, reduces chairtime, and allows the technician to work from a more informed position. The use of photographic materials not only benefits the patient and the dentist, it also enhances our own skill and the quality of our work.
Lastly, photographic technology improves our ability to read and translate information in a way that clearly was not possible in the past, opening the door for more advancements in the future. Still, it is vital that the technician is able to properly interpret the relevant information, as this is a learned process; continuing education is paramount.
The newest generation of dentists is not satisfied with the parameters of the past. As technicians, we must therefore lead by walking the walk, ie, first by learning how to implement photography into our work and then by sharing this knowledge with our dentists. This process may begin with creating simple before-and-after photographic cases and progress to using advanced software to showcase technique sequences. Such photographic documentation in published articles can be informative for dentists, patients, and fellow technicians.
In my office we have incorporated video, allowing us to more fully grasp our patients’ wants and needs by seeing who they are and what they are looking to gain from this experience. Fundamentally, though, video allows us to capture that specific patient’s most natural lip position during speaking, which is simply not possible through still photography alone.
Expanding our knowledge of photography and videography is well worth the investment, as their use in our profession is limitless. Good luck!
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT