If Your Hygienists Aren’t Doing This, You’re Cheating Your Practice and Patients

Ok. I am going to make a bold statement. Well, it’s not really that bold.

My hygienists are the lifeblood of my general practice.

I use the term ‘general’ practice very intentionally in that statement. I don’t have exact stats, but my guess would be that 75% of my general dental practice care is driven through the hygiene department.

If you don’t have your hygienists taking photographs on your patients then you are cheating yourself and your patients. Photographs speak a thousand words. They communicate in a way that words simply can’t communicate.

Now I don’t believe in intraoral cameras. In my opinion, they are 1990’s technology and promote single tooth dentistry. I prefer to utilize extraoral digital camera with mirrors and retractors.

In our practice we have a simple rule. Every visit in hygiene there must be a photo taken. I don’t care what the picture is of – just that when I walk in the room we have a photo taken and on the patient education monitor.

Now we start having regular photographs to show patients how things are progressing.

Here’s a perfect example.

LS RDH photography

Lauren has been our patient since 2013. In 2013 we took our baseline series of new patient photographs. At this visit in 2016 our hygienist noted some recession on the upper premolars.

No patient believes or wants to hear they have recession and need a tissue graft. But – a picture speaks a thousand words.

This simple picture and the comparison to 2013 allowed us to talk to the patient about several things.

The true need for a tissue graft. We have an active area of recession that needs to be corrected. The patient sees the difference and ‘owns’ the problem.
The need for some type of occlusal treatment. Likely the need for some equilibration and a guard to protect the teeth. We know that usually this type of isolated recession is related to occlusal trauma.

So there you have it. The value of photography! And to me the beauty of this is that all done by my hygienist. I walk in and the patient is prepared and all I have to do is agree and answer any lingering questions.

Are you taking photographs in your practice?

What holds you back from taking photographs?


T-Bone Speaks is a podcast dedicated to helping you achieve clinical, financial, and personal balance. You’ll love the entertaining demeanor and down to earth approach to dentistry.

Last modified: August 7, 2018

One Response to " If Your Hygienists Aren’t Doing This, You’re Cheating Your Practice and Patients "

  1. Donna says:

    We are an orthodontic office and take records photos, progress photos, and final records photos. With photography and imaging changing so rapidly I would like to know what kind of a camera, flash etc. you use. We have tried a couple of different cameras and are still searching for the “right” one. Please let me know. Thank you.

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