Speed: When you take a digital photo the image is produced on the computer screen in seconds. Compare that to the hassle of taking photographic film to a developer and waiting days to get the prints. If you take a digital image and it is flawed; for instance it may be under exposed, the colors may be wrong or the alignment is off, you will know in seconds. This allows you to re-take the image immediately. Compare that to a film image. If it is flawed you won’t know until the image is processed, which could be days later. Then your only recourse is to have the patient return and re-take the images. However if the teeth have been altered or conditions have changed the chance to get a suitable before picture is gone forever.
Enhancement: Digital images can be enhanced or manipulated. If you have a flawed digital image you can use image management software to correct the image in a matter of seconds. You can also use the image management software to zoom in on a specific area, crop the image properly or to alter the color or contrast to enhance diagnostic efficiency.
Duplication and Transmission: Digital images can be copied electronically and transmitted instantly. To send a digital image to the patient a colleague or third party you simply click the image and send it. It literally lakes seconds, goes to the recipient instantly and costs nothing. Compare that to sending a copy of a traditional photo. First the photo must be copied, which usually takes several days. There will be a cost in film and reproduction fees. Then it must be put in an envelope and mailed. The recipient will get it a day or more later and there will be additional costs with paper, envelopes and postage.
Storage: Digital Images can be stored electronically as part of the digital patient record. Compare this to paper photos which need to have the name and dates written on them; they can be misplaced, bulge out the chart and turn yellow with age. (electrons do not turn yellow with age.)