TOP 10 ways to achieve standardization in dental photography with respect to image composition.

When a dentist is sharing his cases with his colleagues / students or patients the series of images of a particular case need to look identical and uniform in composition.

The advantages of well composed images are far more greater than poorly composed images.

Furthermore if images of a single subject, when taken at different times, look different and are shot from different angles and at different settings the impact is much lesser and the audience finds it very confusing, difficult to relate to and uninteresting. There is loss of detail and co relating between the before and after images becomes a nightmare.

When the images are uniformly composed, well lit in similar (or same) settings, relating to the images and the situation becomes much more authentic and understandable.

The audience finds it very easy to understand and accept the changes or whatever the  dentist is trying to show.

Anterior dental composite case  Teeth involved 11 and 21 (FDI)

It is however not a child’s play to get the composition uniformly correct all the times because the dentist / dental assistant (anyone who is taking images) has to face long intervals in between the shots.

These intervals can be in hours/ days, weeks, months or even years!!!

So it is always best that before starting the shoot the dentist takes a look at the earlier images first and goes through the METADATA (EXIF) (file information after right clicking on the image)

What is more important is that the images need to be shot with the same equipment that were used at the start of the case and use the same settings as far as possible.

The dentist needs to maintain the patient position and camera position constant for all the shoots (be it intra or extra oral)

The following details might help every dentist / dental ceramist to achieve uniformly composed image:

1) Constant background (E.g. appropriate use of contrastors)

2) Angle of shooting

3) Good uniform retraction (Retraction has to be outward and laterally)

4) Avoiding saliva/blood/ GCF at all times. (Use a good high vac suction)

5) MAGNIFICATION (biggest factor) (In our course we teach 4 magnifications which a dentist typically uses to do all the dental photography. it is a major topic and has to be discussed separately)

6) Uniform cropping (cropping done in the camera maker software is the best because it helps you with a GRID which will guide a dentist to crop accurately)

7) Preferably keep the main tooth/area in the center (This is because this allows for maximum cropping in case there is a mistake with respect to composition)

8) Always notice the other teeth / landmarks

(For instance if its a midline anterior shot at 1:1 magnification then how many teeth are seen?

If the before image shows 2 centrals and half laterals on both sides then this frame has to be accurately repeated and the post-operative image should also show 2 centrals and half laterals on the sides.

It can also happen that 2 centrals ARE visible and the dentist might think that the purpose is solved because the work was only in the centrals like diastema closure, but the post-operative picture instead of showing 2 half laterals is showing 1 full lateral of one side!!!

In the latter case the composition is unacceptable and a lot of data with respect to the work is lost and not recorded.)

9) Another important and hugely neglected part about composition is that a dentist should never lose a sense of orientation which frequently happens and is evident in the shots.

Parallelism has to be maintained between the guiding lines and the viewfinder.

If this is lost then we will be able to see a “CANT” in the images which is visually very disturbing.

Always keep your frame in such a way that the ridge or the teeth are parallel to the viewfinder (either lengthwise or breadth wise)

10) Lastly whenever a Shade guide is to be used the incisal edge of the guide tooth has to align with the incisal edge of the natural tooth. Always wet the surface of the teeth slightly before shade matching.

Insist on taking 2 shots for shade matching (one at picture style NEUTRAL and the other at picture style MONOCHROMATIC which is for appreciating the VALUE of the tooth)


A series of images shot at different times during a single visit dental procedure
A series of images shot at different times during a single visit dental procedure


(I always use Microsoft PowerPoint to make composite images like the one on top because i have made pre-set templates for use by adding shapes and keeping it ready mostly of course as you can see i insert a rectangle and i place my images on the pre-set rectangles.

I find Microsoft PowerPoint extremely easy to use as compared to more sophisticated software’s like photoshop)

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