From DentistryIQ, Tools and techniques to help your patients and improve your practice :
Digital photography can have numerous impacts on your dental practice: Photos can educate patients and improve case acceptance, communicate shade to the dental lab, and improve patients’ confidence following treatment.
Photography should be an integral part of every dental exam and every dental record. Prior to the digital revolution taking patient photos was a haphazard, tedious and expensive process. As a result it was never considered as a routine part of a dental exam. Digital photography has changed all that.
The linked article is comprehensive, including tips on choosing a camera as well as taking and using dental photos.
Photos are invaluable as both a diagnostic aid and as a record. I have participated in several malpractice cases acting as an expert witness for the defense. Often the cases come down to what was present prior to treatment and what was the end result. These cases are extremely hard to judge based solely on written records. Often brief and inadequate written records. However a series of pre-op diagnostic photos would have made the case clear and easy to understand, Even for a jury.
Another great benefit of photography is that it allows patients to see their own mouths and participate in the decision to accept proper treatment. Better photography equals better understanding which equals better care.