DENTISTRY · February 6th, 2020

Using Photography for Dental Exams

by Thomas Fatora, DVM


Photos are an effective way to show clients the work you’ve done during their pet’s dental procedure. In fact, I prefer not to show them their bill until they have seen the dental discharge document that includes photos and X-ray images. I get more thanks (and less fussing) with this approach, and ultimately I am able to help more patients.

For most NVA hospitals, there really isn’t a simple, wireless way to reliably transfer images. You need a specialized camera with wireless connectivity, an advanced, high-speed network, and the patience and determination to implement the service.

Eye-Fi memory card systems are no longer supported or recommended by NVA.  If you are one of the fortunate few to have an older Eye-Fi card system that consistently works in your hospital, may your luck continue to prevail and your memory card never fail. The newer generation, Eye-Fi Mobi cards, includes built-in wi-fi that pairs your camera to your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Although the reviews are mixed, and reported use has been problematic.

There are, however, several options for transferring images to your local computer. For some, the best option may simply be to use a USB cable to upload your images directly from a digital camera. For others, the smartphone in their pocket or cloud-based applications like Microsoft OneDrive can work quite well, but there are some pros and cons.

Smartphones for Dental Photography

Pros for using your smartphone:

  • There’s generally always one at the hospital when you need it
  • The smartphone produces acceptable images
  • Most smartphones include a simple system for exporting images from your phone to your workstation

Cons for using a smartphone:

  • They’re expensive if used for the sole purpose of dental photography (plus, they require a monthly service contract)
  • The smartphone you rely on may not always be there (i.e. because it’s the technician’s phone)
  • Unless you and the phone are quick, expect a lot of missed shots with moving patients

Using Microsoft OneDrive

If you opt to use a smartphone, you can set up automatic uploads to your computer using OneDrive. Just know that this will also upload every photo from the connected phone.

To get started, make sure Microsoft OneDrive is installed on the desired work station. (If it’s not, email the NVA help desk and ask them to help you install the software.) After this is complete, download and install the OneDrive app on to the smartphone you’ll be using for a camera. Then, in the app’s settings, turn on “Camera Upload”. Then return to Microsoft OneDrive on your workstation and set up the OneDrive photo folder to sync. With the photos now synced to your computer, you can drag and drop them on to a dental discharge document without having to use email or a USB cable.

If you want to avoid having all photos from the smartphone auto-sync to OneDrive, there are a few ways to transfer them manually:

  1. Select individual photos and send to a OneDrive folder on your smartphone.
  2. Use a USB cable to connect the smartphone to a workstation that recognizes the phone. Then, locate the photo folder in the phone and copy and paste to a folder on the workstation.
  3. Email the photos to your hospital’s account. Open the email on the workstation and download the images to a folder on the workstation.

Phones can work great if the phone is always there when you need it.

The Ricoh WG-60 is just $247.

A Sturdy, Reliable Camera Option

If using a smartphone isn’t for you, the Ricoh WG-60 is an easy-to-use camera that gets the job done at an affordable price ($247). It focuses automatically and produces quality images. It’s also waterproof and can survive a five-foot drop.

This camera is for you IF:

  • You want simplicity.
  • You want a camera that will get the job done for the least cost.
  • You don’t mind plugging in a cable or inserting an SD card to transfer images.
  • You might drop your camera or get it wet.

This camera is for not you IF:

  • You want wireless image transfer.
  • You want extensive manual control of camera settings.
  • You are willing to spend a bit more for better image quality and functionality.

The Ricoh transfers photos via a USB cable or SD card. Still, this can be a benefit rather than a limitation. It is worthwhile spending a few minutes setting up the camera before you start using it.

The settings I have had luck with are: mode: Program; AF setting: smaller option; AE metering: Spot; Sensitivity :125; Auto ISO range: 125-200; EV compensation: -2.0.

Contact me at if you would like more details.

Thomas Fatora, DVM


NVA Hospitals | Frisco, CO

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