Stock photography is EVERYWHERE. In photo frames, all over magazine advertisements, websites, brochures, anywhere you can think of. There are many websites, like iStockPhoto.com, that are dedicated to selling thousands of professional pictures taken with models and professional photographers in whatever pose and situation you could ever imagine. Most of the time stock photos are a great thing. A nice looking photo can really add to a piece of advertising, and it's a lot easier and cost effective to go onto a stock photography website and buy a great looking picture for $20 than to hire a photographer and a model and pay a couple hundred dollars for a photo-shoot.
In dentistry using stock photos can be really useful. A nice picture of a girl smiling or a family brushing their teeth can improve the look of a brochure or a website. However, "Before and After" and "Smile Galleries" aren't the place for stock photography. Before and after photos are meant to be a portfolio of a dentist's work, actual cases of the dentist's capabilities and talents. Dental work, especially cosmetic dental work, is very personal to those who are considering having some completed. Patients and prospective patients look through these before and after photos as true samples of what their smile could be improved to look like from their specific dentist. Before and after stock photography isn't fair to those flipping through an online Smile Gallery who trust that the cases have actually been completed by that dentist. I feel like this is false advertising.
I like to take before and after pictures for cases that are especially good examples of either common cosmetic dental work, like veneers or dentures, or especially extensive cosmetic dental work, like dental implants. I respectfully never take photos of the patients' faces, only their teeth or smiles.
Look through your dentist's Smile Gallery, do the before and after pictures look believable? Do the people in them look real? Do the pictures look set up? After perusing the internet I found a few great examples of Before and After stock pictures and put them in the slide show above.