If you want to become a better dentist right now, you don’t need some fancy piece of dental equipment or some fancy CE course. You need a camera. To start out, it doesn’t have to be a ridiculously expensive camera. The camera on your phone can do for now. A lot of what I’m going to talk about on this blog is about starting good habits, and photographing your work is a good habit to get into.
I frequently tell my DS-1 students to snap photos of their wax ups. Even if it’s just with your phone, photograph it. Go home. Look at your work the next day. Write down notes about what you would do better. Save everything in a folder or a Dropbox. Catalog everything you’re doing, starting from the DS-1 year.
Everyone knows I love basketball. Go Spurs Go! Basketball players and lots of other athletes watch film to study ways to improve. You can do the same thing. I’m sure someone can put this more eloquently than I can, but there is something magical that happens when you photograph something, remove yourself from the situation, and then go look at a photograph of it. For reasons that I can’t explain, it is much easier to be object about a photograph of your work than actually looking at your work. It might sound crazy at first but trust me on this. The eye notices imperfections, tendencies, and mistakes more clearly when it all comes down to a photo.
Take photos of your wax ups and preps. Look at them later. Be objective. Compare with your colleagues. Discuss ways to improve on what you’ve done. When you go back to your work you will have a completely new and fresh perspective from your photographic evaluation.
After a few months have passed, go back and look at your old work. You will cringe sometimes, trust me! By using this technique to improve your eye for dentistry and your judgement skills, you will improve at a much quicker pace. Good luck and keep snapping those photos!
P.S. Resist the urge to post these “working photos” online, especially in dental school. I’ve searched #dentalschool on Instagram a few times and seen some things that I hope will one day be regretted. Your name and reputation may forever be linked to work that wasn’t close to your best, and it would be unfortunate to have work performed while you were still learning always associated with your name. Online reputation, that’s another post…