When you first present with symptoms, you may have an inkling that an extraction is necessary but you won’t really know until you have been assessed fully by the dentist. The tooth may just need a filling
; it may need a crown
or it may be able to be saved with a root canal treatment
The examination/consultation procedure below will help in determining if an extraction
Your dentist is a master of filtering information to rapidly to diagnose your problem. Some diagnoses are obvious, others are not, so it may not be necessary to ask or do all of the things listed below- it will just depend on the case and what pieces of the puzzle are needed to identify the issue.
- Take a full medical history or check your records.
- Take a full history of your problem (the ‘presenting complaint’)
(i) What does it feel like? An ache, sharp pain, throbbing etc.
(ii) When did it start? How often it comes on? Is it constant?
(iii) What makes it better or worse? Anything that brings on the pain- hot or cold or sweet? How long the pain lasts?
(iv) Do painkillers relieve it? Does it disturb your sleep?
(v) Is it one tooth or can’t you tell?
(vi) And other more specific questions to zone in on the issue.
The answers you give to these questions and what they actually mean in relation to your tooth are discussed in detail in Toothache diagnosis
- Look in your mouth at the problem tooth or area (clinical assessment) for any of the following:
(i) Broken or fractured teeth
(ii) Signs of Dental Caries
(iii) Signs of gum disease
(iv) Signs of an abscess- swellings, sinus etc.
(v) Tooth wear
(vi) And any other number of potential problems or conditions which coincide with your description of the problem.
- Perform any special tests to confirm or disprove the potential diagnosis, this may include:
(i) Vitality testing
(iv) Probing of pocket depths
(vi) X-rays (radiological assessment)- see below:
For a discussion of what each of these is and how it is useful, see - What special tests does the dentist do?'