Across the world, people are now reaching for their phones instead of their digital cameras to take photos. The dental world is no different. Every day, more dentists are reaching for their iPhones instead of their digital cameras when taking clinical pictures.

Although phones are familiar and convenient, there have been issues that hinder their effectiveness.

The two largest issues that dentists face when choosing to use their iPhone cameras are:

  1. Quality
  2. HIPAA Compliance

Here is a deeper look at these two issues and then uncover how ShadeWave Mobile, the new iPhone App solves these issues.

Quality of Photos

Although we are all getting pretty good at taking snazzy pictures for our social media, dentists have a long way to go when it comes to quality dental photography with their phones.

Currently, 80-90% of mobile phone pictures that labs receive are substandard and not useful.

Phone image issues include:

  • Too dark or too light
  • Not in focus
  • Large reflections on the tooth
  • The tooth that needs to be matched is not in the picture (yes… this actually happens…)
  • Zoomed in too close or too far

These quality issues are not necessarily unique to, or caused by, mobile phone use – however, these issues have a much higher frequency with the use of this new tool.

Here are some tips that dentists can use to help mitigate some of these quality problems when using iPhones for dental photography.

Reduce reflections:

  • Diming the operatory lights
  • Closing the blinds to reduce window light
  • Raising the dental chair to that the patient is sitting upright

Choose the correct distance:

Generally speaking, the most optimal distance to take a picture of a patient’s mouth is about 12 inches from their face, zoomed in so that their mouth takes up the entire phone screen. See an example here:


Pro Tip: Taking several pictures from slightly different angles and distances can be very helpful. Also, be sure to include the shade reference information in one of your images.

Check your images before sending:

If this seems painfully simple, that’s because it is. So much time, money and effort could be saved by taking an extra moment or two to ensure your photo is decent. Can you see the tooth you want to be matched? Are there huge reflections on that tooth? Is the image blurry? Is the tooth large enough in the photo that your lab can actually see the characterization of that tooth?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then try again.

HIPAA Compliance

Unfortunately, convenience can sometimes outweigh the security of patient information. With the lack of quick and secure patient communication, sometimes email or text is used.

The solution for solving image quality and HIPAA compliance issues with mobile photography can all be found in ShadeWave Mobile, ShadeWave’s new iPhone App.

What is ShadeWave Mobile?

ShadeWave Dental Shade Matching Mobile App is an Apple App that automates the picture taking process, improving the ease and quality of clinical mobile phone photography while keeping patient information secure.

In addition to choosing the optimal camera settings, the images are stored and communicated through ShadeWave’s HIPAA compliant portal. No more uploading, downloading, or emailing images.

The app also comes with voice control to free up your hand to hold shade tabs, etc..