The BSDHT team explains the importance of clinical photography
The thought of clinical photography might seem daunting at first, but it’s definitely something that dental hygienists and dental therapists should be considering. If you need tips and pointers on where to begin, you should contact the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT). We will guide you towards the best courses and give you the advice you need to get started.
Why? Because the way we communicate with and educate our patients is of paramount importance. Everyone learns differently. For every patient who responds well to spoken or written information, others will respond better to images. Once started you will soon understand the value of introducing clinical photography into your daily routines, and wonder how you ever managed without it.
Photographs provide one of the clearest forms of communication. Through using well taken images of your patients’ oral condition, you can help them better understand their oral anatomy, which makes it easier to explain the impact of effective cleaning techniques.
A photograph can help identify abnormalities in soft tissues, such as swollen, red gums in areas the patient can’t see clearly – helping you hammer home essential hygiene messages such as the importance of interdental cleaning, while also explaining why gingivitis can become a significant concern.
Seeing is believing. When photographs reveal problems such as a broken tooth or damaged restoration it becomes easier to explain the need for remedial treatment. Visual evidence has a greater impact than words alone. Keeping photographic evidence in the patients’ files also means we can monitor any changes over a period of time, and they help simplify and clarify the referral process when needed.
The scope of practice for dental hygienists and therapists is broadening all the time, and a portfolio of clinical photographs becomes a useful tool for promoting your skills by documenting successful outcomes. These photographs, used with consent from patients, can be used across social media or on your practice website to help engage and attract new patients.
Photographs can also be used to illustrate published case studies or on the lecturing circuit, both of which can help enhance your personal development in the profession and potentially open up new opportunities.
Any particularly interesting cases are always worth recording. They can be used to generate discussions with like-minded colleagues and help educate others. Certainly something to consider.