An intraoral camera is a camera which is designed to be used in the mouth for the purpose of taking video or still photography. These cameras are most commonly used in dental offices, although patients can also use them at home to monitor dental health or to satisfy curiosity about what the inside of the mouth looks like. Several firms specialize in producing intraoral cameras and accessories, and others make adapters which can be used with conventional cameras so that they can be used in the mouth.
One of the primary uses for an intraoral camera is in patient education. Dentists often find it helpful to be able to show patients exactly what is going on inside their mouths, and to highlight areas where medical attention may be needed. Patients are also less likely to defer or refuse procedures when they can clearly see the area at issue, as some people are suspicious of recommendations for dental procedures, due to concerns about cost, potential pain, or the fears about members of the dental profession.
In addition to being used in patient education, such cameras can also be used to take clear visual records for patient files, and to generate material which can be used in consultations and discussions with other dental providers. For example, a general dentist might use an intraoral camera to take images of a tooth or area of the jaw which requires oral surgery so that a maxillofacial surgeon can examine the information before he or she meets the patient to get an idea of the kind of surgery which might be required.
Images taken by an intraoral camera can also be reviewed later, which can be useful for a dentist who feels a nagging suspicion that something is not quite right in the mouth of a patient. The intraoral camera can also be used to document procedures for legal and educational reasons, and to create projections of a patient's mouth which can be used in medical schools for the purpose of educating future dentists about various issues which pertain to oral health.
The intraoral cameras designed for use in dental facilities come with disposable probes or probe covers to ensure that germs are not passed between patients, and they may come with a variety of options which enhance the functionality of the camera. Versions designed for home use are usually much more basic, but they can still be useful for people who want to see the inside of the mouth. Using a camera at home, someone can identify an issue which requires a dentist's attention, keep an eye on a recovering surgical site, or teach children about the importance of oral hygiene.