For years, the process used for endodontic diagnosis followed histopathological findings rather than clinical findings. The result is improper management due to an incorrect assessment of the dental problem presented by the patient. There were many instances when endodontic treatment was done when it was not needed or a procedure was not employed when further assessment revealed that a root canal is actually needed.
The American Association of Endodontists made it their goal to clearly define diagnostic classifications and tools that will help dentists, clinicians, researchers, educators, and students follow a standard procedure for dental diagnosis. Aside from looking for the best endodontist in Colorado or any other location, it is also essential to understand how each diagnosis is being reached, as it will allow you to choose the proper dental treatment option.
Medical and Dental History
As with any clinical procedure or treatment that’s about to be made, dentists and other medical professionals, such as an endodontist, must completely delve into the medical and dental history of a patient. Any recent treatment and drugs taken must be considered and compared to the procedures to be done. Allergies that the patient might be suffering from since he was a child should also be recorded.
A dentist will ask you about the symptoms you’re experiencing. They will want to know how long these symptoms have been present, how painful (on a scale of 1 to 10) the infected tooth or gum is, the location of the pain, the medications you’ve taken, and if there were any relief experienced from taking the medicines.
You will undergo a preliminary clinical exam. This is the primary test taken to help the dentist reach a prognosis. Usually, a dentist will check the facial symmetry, sinus tract, soft tissue, periodontal status, and restorations. The results of the exam will allow the dentist to make recommendations for further exams to determine the necessary treatment.
Standard clinical testing includes pulp tests wherein the health of the dental pulp within the pulp chamber and root canals of a tooth are tested. The test includes monitoring the response of the dental pulp to hot, cold, or an electric pulp tester. The corresponding results indicate the vitality of a tooth’s pulpal sensory supply.
Some new technology being tested today will allow the 3D imaging of a tooth and its dental pulp. Called the Cone Beam Computed Tomography, this technology is used to give a dentist a three-dimensional view of the patient. A CBCT scan takes about a minute. The machine captures images by rotating around the patient’s head. It provides a 3D image of the patient’s oral and maxillofacial region, as well as other features in the head.
Of course, some other additional tests will be required if initial results from the clinical exams and radiographic analysis prove to be unconvincing. And while dental procedures will sadly continue to suffer from misconceptions, understanding the process that goes into the diagnosis of dental problems will go a long way towards battling the fears associated with dental procedures.