When shopping for the best intraoral camera for your practice, the number of options on the market can be overwhelming. Popular intraoral cameras can range widely in price and functionality. But how do you know which one is the right one for you?
There are essentially 4 different types of intraoral camera dental practices use:
- Purpose built
- Too many frills
- Niche feature
Let’s take a closer look at each option and what they can do for your practice:
Essentially, these are any dental camera options priced under $1,000.
“For the most part, these cameras use the same electronics as $20 webcams and pinhole or single lens optics, are fixed-focus (but misleadingly advertised as 'auto-focus') and typically have poorly integrated workflows and/or problems integrating with some dental imaging software," said Dustin Johnson, director of engineering at SOTA Imaging.
Although these cameras are popular due to their low price, they often end up costing more money over time — and create an added hassle for practices to continually reorder replacements.
Shortcomings with this category of intraoral cameras:
- Only capture dental images taken at distances adequate to capture 1.5-2 molars.
- Even at their ideal focal distance, the images are maximum 640 x 480 resolution.
- Fisheye distortion.
- LEDs are short-lived.
These cameras range from $1,000 to $3,000, come with good warranties, and are sold by well-established manufacturers in the dental industry. They were developed as purpose-built medical devices and as such cost more money to engineer, test, and manufacture. Most cameras in this range are registered with the FDA, and some even have 510(k) medical device clearance.
- Typically include mechanical or electromechanical focus mechanisms that go from a half molar or full molar out to a full arch.
- Newer models are high definition and most have complex, multi-element optical assemblies designed to produce images with very low distortion.
- Purpose-built digital dental microscopes in a tiny intraoral camera form factor.
- Complicated to make, offer great flexibility, and provide very high quality dental images.
- Highly durable, with fully metal housings and replaceable cables.
Some examples of this kind of camera include the SOTA Imaging Claris i5HD (and previously the Claris i4D, which the i5HD replaced), the non-auto focus Digi-Doc cameras, and the Dexcam 3. Older cameras in this category include the Accucam, Vipercam, and old Gendex cameras.
The Claris i5 HD intraoral camera is sharp enough to show you the tiniest flaws, helping you to communicate any imperfection to your patient in the clearest way possible. For context, it has a very complex 7 element optical stack, and a 1080p HD sensor (older 720p Claris i5HD cameras can be firmware upgraded for free to 1080p, by the way, for those who own one).
These cameras are purpose-built, carefully engineered, and come with great warranties and excellent support.
"The fastest way to get patients to accept treatment is to show them what I see,” said Dr. Barry Bartusiak. “And the Claris shows them exactly what I see. When they see their decay in full HD up on the screen, there’s no discussion about it — they just want it fixed.”
3. Too many frills
In the next category, you have devices that are also designed with purpose, but often include features that go unused.
"These are the devices that tried to be revolutionary, but fell short,” said Dustin Johnson, SOTA Imaging Director of Engineering. “Think, liquid lens auto-focus components that didn’t work well, failed often, and were more irritating than helpful. Or button-based focus systems that were supposed to be easy to use but ended up just being frustrating.”
These cameras cost the most out of all categories, usually in the $3,000+ range.4. Niche feature
Sellers advertise these cameras with niche dental technology. Some examples include color-coded caries detection, high-intensity tooth illumination, and x-ray-like image capture.
However, such features are commonly underutilized by practices. These dental cameras usually cost as much as those in categories 2 and 3.
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