When I first learned dental photography full face and profile images were part of that series and for years I always took them. Over the years I have learned some valuable lessons about full face images. I never take these images first in a series, as most people do not like having their picture taken. I take all of the close-ups, retracted images and mirror shots first and make sure the patient knows that only a small area of their lips and teeth is in the image, which sets them at ease. I only take the full face images if at that point in my planning I believe I need them diagnostically. I can always go back at a later appointment and get them. Full face and profile images are valuable whenever we are planning for orthodontics, need to assess skeletal relationships, facial thirds or esthetic parameters like e-plane.
There are three full face images that are useful, a full smile, lips at rest and a retracted teeth apart. The last of these three shows incisal edge and occlusal plane relative to pupils and horizon. The images are framed from the top of the head to just below the chin and the focus is the center of the face. In profile I take a full smile and lips at rest. The lateral pole of the TMJ is the center of the image and where we focus. Remember to have the patient tuck their hair behind their ears so you can see the full profile and mandibular angle.
The last lesson I have learned is that full face images are for dentists not patients. I almost never show a patient the full face images we have taken. I find that people find these images awkward and they get self conscious. Many patients are distracted by things other than the teeth like hair color, wrinkles etc. So take and use the images you need, ask for permission to show patients their photos and then show them the images that will be relevant to them and help int heir understanding and decision making.
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