Full face photos can be uncomfortable and awkward for the patient, both to take and to look at, but they are a vital part of my series of dental images. Very often when doing a consult with a patient I will not have the full face in the presentation, because for everyone, looking at a photo of yourself can be uncomfortable and distracting and at a minimum people get busy evaluating themselves.
So why do I take them routinely? The full-face photograph is critical in making choices about anterior esthetic treatment planning. Evaluating the smile against the background of the face is an essential element. Are the eyes and pupils level with the horizon? Are the commissures level with the horizon? With this information in hand we can plan the plane for the incisal edge of the maxillary anterior teeth.
I also use this photo to evaluate facial proportions and to look at whether there are skeletal issues that will play a role in the esthetic results the patient and I are hoping for. An esthetically pleasing face is normally divided into equal thirds, from the top of the head to glabella, glabella to the base of the nose, and from the base of the nose to the chin. The lower third of the face when esthetically pleasing is divided so that the upper lip is the top one-third, and the lower lip and chin the remainder.
Lastly, there is one occasion where I show these photos to the patient. At the completion of treatment I invite the patient to come back knowing we will be taking photos. Hair done and makeup on, we laugh and celebrate and take photos. Sharing these photos along with a glass of champagne and a hug are the final touch on a job well done!
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