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Four Ways to Get More from an Intra-oral Camera

Posted by Jason Preston on

Is Yours Costing You or Making You Money?


Is there any debate as to whether case acceptance plays a significant role in revenue?
What’s the best way to increase case acceptance? 
Why is it that intra-oral cameras are used on only 17% of new patients?

I am willing to bet that you already know the answer to this.

Here are the top four reasons offices are not using their cameras: 
1. Don’t think they need it
2. Don’t have time
3. Camera issues (e.g., poor images, hard to use, complicated)
4. Cost

Don’t think they need it
It is hard to believe that after all the research on the effectiveness of intra-oral cameras, office staff still feel these cameras are unnecessary.

Some doctors feel that they are “good salesmen.” Their patients trust them, and there is simply no need for things like cameras. While we may have had the luxury of this simple practice 20 years ago, society is quickly changing. People do not just believe what they are told, even when it is from the president of the United States. People today want to understand and validate things for themselves—they want to be empowered. In the information age, people want more than “just trust me.”

The intra-oral camera is a powerful tool that enables the dentist to get patients engaged in the treatment process and educate them at the same time. Live color images of misshapen teeth, cracks, and decay do much more to create that sense of urgency in the patient than mere verbal descriptions. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is appropriate because there is no substitute for a clear color image when presenting a case and educating a patient.

Don’t have time
Not having time is an excuse used by offices that focus on running from patient to patient. Some of these offices also get caught up in the “drill, fill, and bill” culture of dentistry. The mentality to rush from patient to patient is expensive; getting patients in the chair is not cheap whether the money comes from marketing dollars or from insurance companies. That cost goes up exponentially when those patients don’t accept treatment and walk right out the back door.

According to Dental Economics, most dentists have a case acceptance rate of 20% to 30%. If you increase your case acceptance rate to 60% to 70%, then you will double revenue on the same number of new patients (Michael Kesner, DDS). How do we not have time to do something that could have such a significant impact on the revenue of the practice? Patients say yes only to what they can see and understand.

Camera issues
Unfortunately, many offices have invested good money in cameras that for one reason or another do not perform as expected. While this is an unfortunate situation, this is no reason to allow the financial problem to get worse by letting acceptance suffer. 

Fortunately, the costs of intra-oral cameras have dropped considerably over the years.
What was once a $30,000 investment is now close to a tenth of that cost. While you can find cameras ranging from a few hundred dollars to $8,000, these prices should continue to drop as technology improves. In fact, for under $4,000, you can get a camera that has Gordon Christensen’s highest image quality rating along with caries detection, a two-year warranty, and most of the other features you would find in cameras selling at over $6,000. 


In summary, in the words of the great Henry Ford regarding new technology: “If you need a product but don’t buy it, you ultimately pay for it…but don’t have it!” If you have a camera, use it. If you don’t, find a quality camera and make a difference in your patients’ lives.

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