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How I chose an intraoral camera to invest in

March 22, 2019
Lisa Knowles, DDS, explains how she chose an intraoral camera to invest in.

With a new start-up practice, my budget is tight. Sure, I could take on more debt to live more lavishly and have more pieces of equipment, but I don’t want more debt. I am living more minimally and trying to have less stress.

So, when I initially looked for an intraoral camera for my new office, I decided to pass due to the cost. Yes, they are awesome. I love to show my patients what I am seeing. But this item was not in my budget.

Then I learned about the MouthWatch intraoral camera (figure 1). It was less expensive than other cameras, so naturally I wondered why, and I questioned its quality.

Figure 1:
The MouthWatch intraoral camera, shown with the ExamTab imaging software

To my delight, my MouthWatch camera demo experience was a good one and the quality exceeded my expectations. Once I figured out how to use the handy protective sleeves, I was quite pleased with the detail in the images (figures 2 and 3).

Figure 2:
Dental attrition on No. 19

Figure 3:
Filling prep on No. 31 with composite band system in place

As a speaker, I wondered if the photo resolution would be high enough to use in my slide deck. It is, and I am happy to be able to get just the right angle to show dental work or pathology to my audience members.

Gaining case acceptance is another reason why I appreciate having an intraoral camera readily available. I am fortunate to have a few more wrinkles now, and patients sometimes equate them to experience. But as a younger dentist, I saw the questions in my patients’ eyes. They wondered if I knew what I was talking about; they wanted to see their cavities for themselves and make sure I was offering legitimate advice.

Even now, some new patients have a hard time trusting me, and they want to see what is going on in their mouths. The intraoral camera provides the security they need to trust us, and they love the coolness factor of being able to see areas in their mouths they typically cannot see in their bathroom mirrors.

It’s quite an educational tool too. A hand mirror can only show so much. But an intraoral camera lights up the mouth and captures images so patients can see their plaque buildup or that dark, cavitated spot on the buccal of No. 15.

Many of our patients are visual learners, and they like to see the problems—not just hear about them. As educators, we can get overly comfortable with photo after photo of decay, but our patients are intrigued. It’s their decay. Getting a patient to take ownership of his or her disease is not always so easy. An intraoral camera offers us one more way to help our patients believe what they hear and recognize their shortcomings. And it’s our opportunity to coach them nicely through the process of correcting their mistakes.

When a patient returns with less plaque or a repaired filling, take a picture of the improved conditions and show them the results. Pat them on the back. Print off the photos. Praise them for their better efforts. An intraoral camera makes it possible to capture the past and show before and after results. If the results are still not as good as desired, revisit the problem areas and take a new photo for each stage in their development.

Sometimes our patients cannot or will not improve their oral health, so it’s wise to have photos of beginning conditions just in case a legal issue arises later on. This helps avoid any discrepancies or potential hard feelings when one person thinks differently than the other. This happens rarely, but when it does occur, I am always pleased to know I took photos in the beginning of treatment to help me remember a patient’s original state.

An intraoral camera is a wonderful adjunct to our dental armamentarium, and the MouthWatch intraoral camera is an affordable option that produces quality images.

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Product Navigator.Click here to subscribe. Click here to learn how to submit an article.

Disclosure: Dr. Knowles received an honorarium from MouthWatch for the authorship of this article. All information and recommendations are consistent with Dr. Knowles's normal course of clinical practice.

Lisa Knowles, DDS, is a lifelong supporter of equality, human rights, and the prevention of violence against men, women, and children. She belongs to the Health Professional Education, Advocacy, Linkage group and, as a dentist, helps her colleagues understand their roles in the area of human trafficking. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and serves as a preceptor at the Volunteers of America Dental Clinic in Lansing, Michigan. She also owns a private practice in East Lansing, Michigan. Dr. Knowles is a trustee for the Michigan Dental Association and writes frequently for several dental trade journals, including, Dental Economics, and Dentistry Today. She is on many social media platforms under the name Beyond 32 Teeth, and she has her own consulting business, Intentional Dental Consulting.

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