Taking dental photographs in mirrors can be challenging enough, without having to worry about controlling the fog. Over the years I have tried and abandoned many techniques for warming the mirrors so that they don’t fog during photographs. The first technique I tried was placing the mirrors in a bowl of hot water. It warms them for sure, but I ran into several challenges. First getting water that is hot enough, then carrying it to the room without spilling it or tipping over the bowl once it was in the room. If this all worked, the last problem, was that once warmed the mirrors are wet and have to be dried prior to use. Since you don’t want to rub dental photography mirrors with paper towels or anything course, this required having sterile chamois in the room.
I abandoned this technique and tried warming the mirrors with a torch, using the same waving technique for warming wax for bite records. My challenge with this was getting the mirror evenly heated, not too cool which means it still fogs and not too warm or it burns the patient. I also found patients got a little skeptical watching all of this. When I finally burned my own fingers I gave up.
Next in line was having the assistant blow air on the mirrors during each shot. This will control the fog, but has some inherent challenges. First you must have an assistant to make it work. Often in my office I or my assistant is taking the photos solo, and we have the patient hold the retractors. If you do have an assistant available, they have to blow a steady stream of air, making sure it gets the entire surface of the mirror. It can be challenging not to get the tip of the air water syringe in the photo, and this technique dries the patients mouth and can create sensitivity.
Fr the last seven years what I have done in my office and taught other dentists to do is warm the mirrors with a heating pad. Heating pads universally when set to the “low” setting are just warmer then body temperature. This allows the mirrors to be warmed through and through so they can be used multiple times without fogging. It is also the perfect temperature to take to the mouth. We purchase an inexpensive heating pad and set it on the assistant’s side of the room. Fold it in half, and place the mirrors in the heating pad, which is turned on as part of the room setup. The mirrors can be in their sterilization bags, or you can fold a patient napkin in half to keep the heating pad from becoming contaminated.
The mirrors are always warm and ready to go this way, anyone can take photos by themselves, and it is comfortable to the patient. The only downside is every once and awhile you have to spend ten dollars and purchase a new heating pad as they don’t last forever.