Buyers Guide: Intraoral Cameras

Dentalcompare
Clinical Director

The 5 Reasons You Need an Intraoral Camera

The intraoral camera has more than once been referred to as a tool more useful than a dental handpiece. While there are many reasons to use one, here are the top five uses that make this an indispensable part of your treatment room.

  1. Patient Education – Today’s patients are asking more questions than ever because they want to make informed decisions about their treatment. Using an intraoral camera allows you to show them what is going on. Seeing the same things you do makes it much easier for the patient to accept your recommendations.
  2. Greater Visibility – The zoom on most intraoral cameras rivals that of a conventional microscope. If you are questioning something you see—such as a small hairline fracture—grab a picture and see it up close. This quick intraoral snapshot could change the outcome of your procedure.
  3. Case Documentation – Many times we opt to “watch” a particular tooth, knowing that at some point in the future there will be a change that requires work to be done. With an intraoral camera, you can view images side by side to easily track the progress.
  4. Insurance Claims – There are many times an x-ray does not show the true extent of what was going on with a tooth. Adding a digital photo to your insurance claim will guarantee to reduce the number of denied EOBs.
  5. Professional Communication – There is no better way to give a specialist a heads up on a case than to send a good picture. For example, you can include a picture of a lesion needing a biopsy to help the specialist adequately prepare for your patient.

What I Need to Know

Image

USB Connectivity: Most intraoral cameras are digital and an easy-to-use USB connection is crucial. This easy connectivity allows you to take the camera from room to room, eliminating the need to have one for every operatory. Relying on docking stations adds an unnecessary cost and reduces portability of the camera.

Capture Button: The capture button should be positioned where you can snap an image no matter the orientation of the camera in the mouth. Some intraoral cameras have a swipe function to capture the image, eliminating the need to push a physical button. This is nice because pushing a button might move the camera and blur the image.

Construction: While plastic or steel construction may not make a difference to the captured image, a stronger intraoral camera will tend to last longer. Keep in mind that sturdier construction may increase the overall weight of the camera and a lightweight camera might be easier to use.

Resolution: A higher resolution intraoral camera will usually capture images with better clarity.

Intraoral vs. Macro: Many intraoral cameras allow for a change in focal distance to let you capture a full arch or even an extraoral shot of the patient. While it doesn’t come near the quality of taking an extraoral picture with a digital SLR camera, this feature can be good for a quick image which can be added to a patient’s chart.

Light Source: Most USB intraoral cameras feature LED technology to light your subject. Because LEDs provide more than enough light for an intraoral image, this a less crucial attribute to worry about.

Software: It is important to know if the software or drivers that come with the camera will be compatible with your existing practice management or imaging software. You may see some describe their camera as TWAIN compliant. This is a common imaging standard outside of dentistry allowing different cameras to work with different software applications.

Warranty: As with any piece of equipment, know the period of time for your warranty. Accidents do happen. 

Questions to Ask

  1. What type of connection does the intraoral camera have?
  2. Does it work with my existing software, or is there a software bridge that can be used?
  3. How does it feel in my hand? Consider the weight
  4. Is the capture button placement easy to reach and press?
  5. What type of focus (manual vs. auto) does the camera have, and will that fit the needs of my practice?
  6. Will I use this just for intraoral images, or do I need a camera capable of extraoral capture?
  7. What is the warranty period?

Definitions

CCD – Charge coupled device. A type of digital imaging sensor commonly used in dental digital intraoral cameras.

CMOS – Complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor. A type of digital imaging sensor used in some dental digital intraoral cameras.

Focal Length – The distance between the lens and the imaging sensor. Adjustable focal length allows focus on subjects at different distances from the camera. Fixed focal length means the camera always focuses on objects at one set distance from the lens.

.jpg – A common image file format. This format is often used with point-and-shoot digital cameras.

TWAIN – A standardized software protocol allowing imaging devices and computer software from different manufacturers to communicate. A software driver specific to the imaging device allows it to send images to the computer software via the TWAIN standard.

USB – Universal Serial Bus and ocmputer industry standard for cables and connections allowing both communications and power supply between a computer and an auxilary device such as an intraoral camera.

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