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Diagnostic tests done by dentist

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Diagnostic tests serve multiple clinical objectives that ultimately benefit the individual patient.

The dentist may use tests to:

1) Identify predisposing risk factors to modify risk and prevent disease

2) Identify early disease-associated changes prior to clinical signs of disease and

3) Determine which specific type of disease is involved to guide the selection of the most effective therapy.1 

Dental Examination

This is the foremost step every dentist would employ when one complains of toothache or bleeding gums. The affected teeth are examined by the dentist to assess the severity of the condition. The dentist may ask certain questions that can help him/her to identify the condition more specifically and either confirm or rule out the presence of any other underlying illness. The dentist may feel a swelling if present, to mark its extensions.

Sensitivity test:

Sensitivity test is another tool used by the dentist to assess the condition of an affected tooth. The dentist may tap the tooth with an instrument, apply heat or cold on the affected tooth, check for its mobility and verify any changes in the tooth color. A thorough evaluation of the whole mouth including the teeth, gums, palate and tongue is necessary to check for any other associated abnormalities.


X rays were discovered in 1895 by wilhelm conrad rontgen

X-ray or radiographs are a vital part in the diagnosis of various disorders. In dentistry, radiographs are commonly used to determine the extent of caries and bone loss. The treatment plans are based on the interpretations of the disorder. Simple radiographs are the small radiographs, which are placed inside the mouth near the affected tooth. It takes less than a minute for the procedure.

Another type of radiograph that displays the entire dentition is the orthopantomograph commonly referred to as OPG. The dentist may advice this to evaluate the teeth and supporting bone in case of severe caries or periodontitis. Specialized radiographs such as the lateral cephalogram are commonly advised before putting braces on the teeth.

The newer versions include digital radiography wherein one can visualize the reports on a monitor and can be saved easily for future use.2

A common concern with X-ray is the radiation. Yes, it is dangerous but only at higher amount of exposure. A normal radiography process does not expose to high amounts of radiation. However, the exposure to radiation when one is pregnant may be dangerous to the unborn child. If one is pregnant, and need to take a radiograph, always inform the dentist. The dentist will provide the patient with protective aprons, which will shield the mother and the baby from the harmful radiation.

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Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: March 26, 2012