Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Reviews of photography products that enhance the enjoyment of taking pictures. Published frequently but irregularly.

The Dentist Shoots, We Smile Tweet This   Forward This

5 February 2013

We escaped the bunker early this morning to rendezvous with our new dentist. She's the third to run the practice we've been visiting since we lost our baby teeth. A cleaning then cost $3.

"We haven't taken photos of you," she noticed as she looked over our chart, "so why don't we take them now?"

She said "photos" but we suspected she meant "X-rays." Were we due already?

"There's no radiation. They're just digital photos," she explained. OK, now she had us.

Intraoral Camera. Note the LED illumination around the small lens at the end of the probe.

Just behind us to the right she had a Windows laptop and she held a wand in her hand that was tethered to the laptop (there are wireless versions available, too). The wand, it turned out, was the camera -- an inexpensive intraoral camera much like this one. It had both a shutter and zoom button on it and, at the nozzle end, on the side, a lens surrounded by small LEDs.

She had wrapped the whole thing hygienically in plastic. You can't easily disinfect a camera, apparently.

When we researched this technology, we found a lot of information about digital dental photography but a plethora of doctors were actually using dSLRs fitted with a ring flash and mirrors (and various WiFi gadgets, not to mention ghastly cheek spreaders, which do just what you imagine) to do what she did with the tethered wand camera. Her approach seemed significantly more civilized.

We can't say that for the software, which displayed all the shots in one window, forcing her to scroll around a lot to compare teeth. She was able to display the images individually, of course, but we kept thinking it was all a little retro. Interestingly enough, more than a few dental photography sites recommend Lightroom, primarily for its file management.

Dental Software. Not Lightroom by a long shot.

Because the camera was tethered, she used the laptop's LCD to frame her shots (which also beats a dSLR) and quickly toured our facilities, zooming in or out and snapping away as she went. Each big tooth filled the frame while the little ones in front posed together in cozy group shots.

We know this because she invited us to have a look after.

"Don't mind those black spots," she told us. "That's a software glitch." Good thing, too, because the triangular specs on our white teeth looked just like cavities.

She'd focused on the top of the teeth and the back of the front ones. They have scientific names (and she used them) but this isn't that kind of story. To us they're chompers, piercers and biting smilers.

Circuit Board. Note the CMOS sensor where the lens would be on the probe's shell (far right).

We had a nice discussion about the state of previous repairs (which stretch back to another century) as well as the things she'll keep an eye on.

We, for our part, kept our eye on the screen. We had never seen our teeth or our previous dental work so well exposed. The little LED illumination was perfect, the resolution sufficient to fill the laptop screen and greatly magnify such a small subject. And its faults, we hasten to add.

But they were such well exposed images that we wondered why she didn't ask us to sign a model release.

In the end, however, we couldn't help feeling a little sorry for our teeth. What a bashing they've gone through. All in our service. To feed us. To fend off hunger. Did we ever acknowledge their sacrifice? Ever reward them? Ever publicly acknowledge their contribution to our robust health?

We thought, looking at them, that they would qualify for disability. We wanted to reach out to them and promise new non-Mercury fillings, perhaps a gold crown here and there.

Walking out of there a few minutes later, it occurred to us that if our teeth were so battered, what must our liver look like? And our arteries? The cartilage buffering our knees?

What, we worried, was left of us?

"Basta!" we upbraided ourselves for such a dismal attitude.

But in that one little word "basta" was the answer, too. Enough. Enough is left of us. To go on.

BackBack to Photo Corners