Valparaiso (219) 531-8914
951 Southpoint Dr.
Valparaiso, IN 46385
Chesterton (219) 926-5445
1830 South 11th Street
Chesterton, IN 46304

Digital Photography is a Valuable Dental Tool

Question: "Dr. Arnold, my new dentist charged me $40 to take digital photographs of my teeth at my new patient appointment. It seems like a lot of money. Can't she see everything that she needs to on the x-rays they took?"

Answer: Dental radiographs (x-rays) provide your dental team with a lot of valuable diagnostic information. Digital photos of your teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth also provide a lot of great information that won't necessarily be visible on radiographs. These photos can't replace a comprehensive clinical evaluation, but they have been tremendously helpful to my team and me over the past six years.

The appropriate high resolution digital cameras allow us to capture full face, full smile, full arch, and several other types of photos with tremendous accuracy. We can now capture excellent photos of ones mouth, which greatly facilitates communication and patient understanding. These extraordinarily detailed photos are valuable diagnostic and educational tools.

Excellent photographs also improve communication with dental ceramists fabricating crowns, onlays, or veneers for our patients. Photos can be e-mailed to these dental labs or burned to a disc which can be sent with the case. It makes shade (color) matching more precise and facilitates the achievement of very esthetic results.

Insurance reimbursement for necessary procedures is also easier to obtain for patients when a photograph is sent with the x-ray and claim form. Having photos of diagnostic quality are also helpful when communicating with specialists. Consultations with specialists can be done conveniently via e-mail while talking on the phone.

Taking photos periodically allows us to document the condition of teeth and gums over a period of months or years. This enables us to see changes, document "before and after" results, and assist us in performing thorough clinical exams. We even schedule low-key, fun "photoshoots" with patients who have undergone smile enhancing procedures.

My dental team has really enjoyed using our digital cameras, and digital photography has become part of the standard protocol in my dental practice. My team cannot imagine practicing dentistry without this fantastic technology at our disposal.

Dr. Jim Arnold is a practicing dentist in Chesterton and Valparaiso. He is also a clinical mentor with the Hornbrook Group and serves on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics as the Fellowship Chairman. You may send questions to his office at: 1830 South 11th Street, Chesterton, IN 46304 or email them to: More information on this or many other dental topics can be found at