Dental Photography Part 2: Deciding Between Saving Images as JPEG or RAW 

March 20, 2024 Charlie Ward, DDS

Charlie Ward, DDS

In this article, I’ll share how I save my Dental DSLR photos and choose between the file formats of RAW versus JPEG. There are specific reasons why we might need one format or the other, or perhaps both. I’ll also share how I store and protect my ever-growing collection of images. 

The Difference Between RAW and JPEG Format 

We have a choice when we’re shooting with our DSLR about how we want to save our files. On the menu of our camera, we see that we can choose between RAW and JPEG, and the quality of JPEG. When RAW is selected, all data that hits the camera sensor is saved. A JPEG is a processed image resulting in a compressed (smaller) file size.  

The data stored in RAW images can be 3 to 4 times more than in JPEG images, depending on the quality of JPEG you select on the camera menu. The processor in your DSLR camera will remove data from a JPEG image that it perceives to be imperceptible to the human eye. The greatly smaller size of JPEGS makes them universally preferred, not only for storage but for quick upload, download, and opening for viewing online. I routinely shoot high-quality JPEGs for diagnostics and routine lab communication.  

(If you are wondering what JPEG stands for, it’s for Joint Photographic Experts Group. Once JPEG images are in your computer, they can be saved as different file formats ending in different extensions such as .eps, .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .bmp, .tif, and .tiff.) 

If I take an image in both RAW and JPEG format, at first glance, the JPEG and RAW images may look the same, but on closer inspection, I may see that the stain on a tooth’s enamel or surrounding skin tones appear lighter in the RAW image. The camera itself has processed the image and determined that some of that data is unnecessary.  

When to Shoot RAW Images 

For most of what dentists do with our DSLR cameras, JPEGS are fine. There are three situations when we should choose to shoot RAW images. 

  1. When we want to edit images like a professional photographer. 
  1. When we shoot images for accreditation for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. The Academy requires images in raw format so they can tell that the images have not been edited.  
  1. When we are using a digital shade matching system like eLab or Matisse that requires RAW input. 

Why Shoot Both Versions When You Want RAW 

If you are storing CBCT and RAW images on your server, a lot of data can accumulate quickly. I shoot JPEG versions of the images I shoot in RAW format so I can delete the RAW files from my server when they are no longer needed and still have a case record with the JPEG files. 

Storage Tip: In my practice, we download the patient’s or the day’s images from the SD card on to our server in a patient folder. We have one main folder and within it a subfolder for each letter of the alphabet. Inside each alphabet letter’s folder is another subfolder labeled with the patient’s name for each patient whose last name begins with that alphabet letter. Inside each patient’s folder are appropriate subfolders, labeled for example, “Name-Prep-Date.” 

 

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Cleaning Dental Photography Mirrors

June 24, 2020 Lee Ann Brady DMD

It can be very frustrating to take a series of dental photos only to realize there were scratches or watermarks on the mirrors when you review the images later on a computer. Cleaning mirrors without damaging them can be a challenge.

I happen to like the [chromium or titanium] coated buccal, lingual, occlusal and anterior contact Intraoral Handle Mirrors from PhotoMed®. These feature a stainless steel handle that keeps fingertips out of the photograph. And, if your patient is cooperative, they can hold the mirror to free up your assistant. All of the handle mirrors from PhotoMed are single-sided, autoclavable, and can be cold sterilized.

In my practice, we try to protect our mirrors as much as possible from scratches, because once they happen, there is nothing you can do about it. Watermarks, on the other hand, can be eliminated and also cleaned away.

To avoid watermarks, we always wrap our mirrors in a paper towel before putting them in the autoclave bag. To clean away fingerprints and water spots, we use premoistened lens cleaning wipes that are designed for cleaning eyeglasses. They can be purchased in bulk, and we find them economical, efficient, and effective in cleaning our intraoral mirrors for crisp intraoral photo images. We keep a box in every operatory, where they do double duty in cleaning our eyeglasses and loupes.

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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Please Bring Your Smartphone: Part 2

March 19, 2018 Will Kelly DMD

In my last blog, I discussed the possible scenarios that could occur when your patient answers their phone during an appointment. Now, I’ll explore how you can leverage smartphones to your advantage in your dental practice.

Leveraging Smartphones in the Dental Practice

Which scenario would you hope might happen with you the most? Are these all valuable experiences? Do you KNOW YOUR PATIENT more by observing each behavior? Do you KNOW YOURSELF more from your level of engagement and influence on the outcome? How will you modify your future interactions for each patient from what you have learned?

Let’s face it, for the past couple of decades we’ve had it easy. If we chose, a whole wall could be filled with charts of Baby Boomer patients. Boomers are everywhere in great numbers, most have comprehensive needs, most have the means to care for themselves, most have a high level of trust. It was an ideal patient population and still is.

Now we have Millennials. Frankly, they are initially a tough personality for more seasoned practitioners to relate with (we look at them like spoiled kids). The stark reality is that they outnumber Boomers and have plenty of dental needs. They are the future of our workload.

To relate with Millennials, they need information fast. They need to see to believe and establish trust. Fortunately, they have a camera in their pocket. Sure, I still take my full photo series and we keep the intra-oral cameras in our rooms, but when I see the slightest glimmer of doubt in a Millennial, I ask if they can open the camera on their phone. Then I pull out a photo mirror.

It’s almost as if saving the image in their device’s storage is connecting to their memory bank. They look at it several times. They text the picture to friends and post on social media. They seek validation. From cracked teeth to gingival needs to caries – for my millennials, seeing is believing. (Now if I can keep them off social media while I’m prepping their teeth.)

Here are two photos of a tooth that a skeptical patient refused to crown because there were no symptoms. The “just fill it Doc” attitude changed with two simple snaps on their phone using a mouth mirror.

To be continued …

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Will Kelly DMD

Dr. Will Kelly attended the North Carolina State University School of Design and received a BA in Communications. He went on to spend two additional years in post baccalaureate studies in Medical Sciences at both UNC Chapel Hill and Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Kelly graduated from the top ranked UNC School of Dentistry in 2004. His good hands and clinical abilities led to his being chosen as a teaching assistant to underclassmen in operative dentistry. In addition to clinical time in the dental school, Dr. Kelly had valuable experiences working in both the Durham VA Hospital and for the Indian Health Service in Wyoming. As a child, Dr. Kelly had the opportunity to assist his father on several dental mission trips in Haiti. After completing dental school, Dr. Kelly joined his father in private practice and served on the dental staff at Gaston Family Health Services, where he maintained a position on the board of directors. At this time Dr. Kelly also began his studies in advanced dentistry at the prestigious Pankey Institute in Miami, a continuing journey of learning that has shaped his philosophy and knowledge of the complexities of high-level dentistry. Today Dr. Kelly devotes over 100 hours a year studying with colleagues and mentors who are regarded as "Masters of Dentistry".

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