Taking the Scare Out of Practice Ownership with Intraoral Cameras

Intraoral cameras, do you think they make a difference? Top producing dental offices say use of intraoral cameras in patient care, treatment planning and case acceptance makes all the difference.

“Using an intraoral camera has been very helpful establishing rapport, trust and relationships with patients, a picture is worth 1000 words and the camera is extremely helpful in diagnosing and patient acceptance.” 

Dr. Espanol, TX

Building Relationships

Bridget Espanol, DDS owner of BME Dental in Plano, TX recently purchased an existing practice and has implemented the use of an intraoral camera, whereas the previous dentist did not utilize the technology. Dr. Espanol has found the use of intraoral cameras has helped build credibility and trust with her patients.  As a new doctor taking over an existing practice there is many patients who are hesitant to trust a new face, intraoral imaging can help validate the diagnosis. Dr. Espanol states, “using an intraoral camera has been very helpful establishing rapport, trust and relationships with patients, a picture is worth 1000 words and the camera is extremely helpful in diagnosing and patient acceptance.” 

As a new dentist she is finding the value intraoral cameras bring to building a practice and establishing patient relationships. Dr. Aparna Chawla, owner of SRI Dental (Smiles Rendered with Integrity) in Skillman, NJ agrees with the importance of using an intraoral camera to build the trust and relationship with patients. Dr. Chawla, much like Dr. Espanol, purchased an existing dental practice at the beginning of 2020, just prior to the onset of the pandemic and the uncertain times of the shutdown. She shared that, “A picture is not just worth 1000 words, it is really worth $1000. I use it to show decay to the patient, and once the tooth is prepped often find the extent of damaged tooth structure is a crown is warranted. The patient is invested and often recognizes the need for a crown before I say it.”

Technology that Pays for Itself

As a dental hygienist I have used an intraoral camera daily in patient education and simply to explain what I would see.  In my experience, the use of intraoral images creates a value and urgency to complete recommended care.  As a result the patient is invested in their oral health and ready to schedule treatment rather than waiting until treatment is driven by pain.  The investment to outfit every operatory with a dental camera reaps a financial reward many times over.  In fact, a recently published survey in Dental Economics found on average dentists were reporting approximately a $7000 increase in monthly income when intraoral images are used in treatment planning and patient education.

The Dream Team

Patients not only are invested in their own care, if they have never seen an intraoral image many are impressed with the technology you have implemented. Patient perception drives a practice growth, great patients tell their friends about excellent and progressive care that will essentially lead to new patients. Intraoral camera technology is used not only for patient education, it is a valuable tool in diagnostics. The investment to ensure each operatory has a camera, each clinical team member is confident to take images and each patient is educated on their oral status creates a dream team. Dr Chawla quickly recognized the convenience and freedom of having a camera in each operatory, no more treasure hunts to find out where it was hiding in the office. She states the use of cameras by her hygienists has increased 10x and the ROI has more than paid for all the cameras.

Owning a business in the midst of a pandemic is a scary concept, finding ways to be bring patients not only in the door but to invest in recommended care can require planning and adaption. Pulling a camera out of your bag of dental tricks to gain patient trust, respect and acceptance can help your practice thrive during these scary times.

Jamie Collins, RDH-EA, BS is a hygienist in Idaho and Washington states.  She has been in the dental field for over twenty years, both as an assistant and hygienist.  With a passion for patient care, especially those with higher risk factors, Jamie enjoys sharing the tips and tricks of dental profession through speaking and writing for various publications. In addition to clinical practice Jamie is also a speaker, educator, has contributed to multiple textbooks, curriculum development, and contributes as a key opinion leader for various companies.  Jamie can be contacted at [email protected] or visit mydentaleducator.com