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Supporting Endodontic Disease Diagnosis

Dental practice acts vary among jurisdictions, as do the scopes of practice. While the dental hygienist may not be able to make a legal diagnosis regarding endodontic disease, he or she can perform endodontic diagnostic testing for review by a supervising dentist or endodontist. The technique required is well within a dental hygienist’s skill set. The ability to identify whether endodontic disease is present benefits patients, as well as dental practices, and can help focus attention on immediate and long-term needs.


Currently, no single pulp testing technique can reliably diagnose all pulpal conditions, neither has one been proven to be superior in all aspects.

Root canal vector of tooth and gum with dental tool doing root canal f9b65183_118 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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A pulp will not become inflamed or necrose unless bacteria are present.

Beautiful transparent tooth with roots illustration, abstract blue artistic background TefiM / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Which of the following is a sign of endodontic disease?

Female dentist talking to her patient at dentist's office agrobacter / E+
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Palpation is an evaluation for inflammation and/or swelling of the periosteum and underlying tissues.

Dental teeth, mouth, gums dentists teaching model showing each tooth and roots. edwardolive / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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An isolated area of deep probing could be indicative of a sinus tract draining through the periodontal ligament or it may be associated with a fracture.

Close up of beautiful young woman having dental check up. Dentist examining a patient's teeth, holding dental tools - mirror and probe. Dentistry. anatoliy_gleb / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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An intense but brief response to cold is always abnormal.

Cropped shot of an attractive woman experiencing a toothache laflor / E+
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While percussion is useful in isolating pain from inflamed periapical tissues, the bite test is more effective for determining sources of pain related to chewing, such as cracks or flexure of restorations overlying caries.

multi-colored Endodontic files on a white sterile protective mask. Besiki Kavtaradze / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Supporting Endodontic Disease Diagnosis
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This information is from the article “Endodontic Diagnosis for the Dental Hygienist” by Eugene A. Pantera, JR, DDS, MS and Carole T. Pantera, DDS, MS. To read the article, click here.

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