So recently I’ve reexamined what we do and why in our offices with an emphasis on opportunities to increase patient comfort, reduce chair time and increase efficiency. Knowing us orthodontists I figured that there had to be massive opportunity if only I could manage to question the absolutes – the bedrock of what we do and why – because we are all about doing things the way we l’ve always done. Questioning our absolutes is harder than you might think tho! Recent posts in several forums about problems with getting staff to take “quality photos” got me thinking… We orthodontists spend a TREMENDOUS amount of money and time and effort and aggregation in pursuit of “perfect photos”. We have conflicts with staff and even lose team members over our “unreasonableness” and “pickiness” over how photos are taken, cropped and printed. If you haven’t yet, give it time.


Because, of course! The photos have to be perfect and we have to have a $3000 camera and we have to have a ring flash and we have to have a slave flash and we have to have a light box synced to our fancy camera so there is not even a hint of a shadow and we have to have the occlusal planes perfectly parallel and perfectly cropped and perfectly centered and the intraoral photos must be taken perfectly parallel with no fog on our awesome rhodium mirrors… Don’t you know anything? If they are not then we MUST belittle and nag and berate our employees who can’t see the same tiny defects we can even though they didn’t go to years of dental school and more years of school after that… Duh!

But when I asked orthodontists why we must do this the answers were variations of “just because” or referenced the need to impress colleagues. I guess if you are paid to speak and show cases to other orthodontists then you can justify this behavior to some degree. Just remember that you need to get paid a bunch because these photo shenanigans are disputing your primary business!

When I asked why photos that show what need to be shown and look “pretty good” aren’t good enough I got more “just because” along with “photos are a reflection of your quality of treatment”. I found this funny because it reminds me of why we used to have to have plaster models with perfect angles at the corners that were set at very specific and randomly chosen measurements with perfectly parallel bases and perfectly smooth surfaces. It sounds silly when pointed out but even though “perfect plaster models” are beginning to lose favor, there are still a ton of people who do them despite the fact that patients and dentists are unimpressed with the “perfection”. In fact there have been recent articles by revered orthodontists claiming that the records are as important or even more important than the treatment results! Use your head. Stop the insanity!

Patients and dentists don’t see the difference between awesome photos and acceptable photos either!

To be clear I’m saying that being a picky, unreasonable jerk about photos to your staff, spending a ridiculous amount of money on photo equipment and disrupting your primary business in a way that is the opposite of productive while forcing patients to endure all of this is as dumb as doing those stupid “ideal” plaster models.  Yes you need an accurate photographic record of what you need a record of, but making a good record and having “perfect photos” can be as dissimilar as day and night in an orthodontist’s office in my experience

Think about it. I wish I had sooner. Recently we have swapped out our fancy cameras for old iPhones because they are cheap, the cameras are great, everyone knows how to operate the features (focus point, light level, flash, cropping, etc), it’s easy to transfer the photos and kids aren’t intimated by getting a photo with an iPhone. The team, the patients and the business love how quickly and easily we get good photos that are in focus and color correct. Why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t you?

One thought on “Focus on Photos

  1. Love this idea. I am going to start trying it. I’m guessing it’s not hard to upload even to a PC, but I’ll find out soon.

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