Types of Diagnostic Procedures Used in Endodontic Treatment

woman undergoing root canal treatment

One of the most common indications that one needs endodontic therapy is dental pain. Endodontic therapy aims at addressing the issues affecting your dental pulp and contributing to your pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, the pain, inflammation, and swelling, which are indications of the need to undergo endodontic treatment, are generalized. It is hard to isolate the precise location of your symptoms.

As such, your treatment by an endodontist in Colorado will start with an accurate diagnosis of the affected pulp cavity. There are different methods used in endodontic therapy for the diagnosis of dental root issues. The following are the most common ones:


team of doctors looking at xray of teethThese are used to visualize the tissue in your teeth and the jaw bone. Radiographs, including x-rays, scans, and MRIs, are used not only to assess the condition of your jawbone but also locate and measure different anatomic structures during your endodontic procedures. This way, none of the structures are affected during your treatment. During a root canal, for instance, the endodontist will take serial x-rays to measure the treatment site’s depth and guarantee that the procedure accesses all affected portions of your teeth.

Palpation and Percussion

In percussion, your tooth’s crown is struck gently using a fingertip or an instrument. This procedure determines whether your tooth is tender. The presence of tenderness might indicate an active pulp infection or periodontitis. Palpation, on the other hand, is used to assess the consistency of your dental tissue by the slight application of pressure. It is used to determine whether your gum’s swelling is consistent. Palpation is generally used when evaluating an abscess on your gums.

Thermal Sensitivity Test

This is used in teeth that are already sensitive to hot and cold food and drinks. A heated gutta-percha will generate pain in an inflamed or hypersensitive pulp. If you have pulpitis, the pain caused by the heated gutta-percha will continue long after the stimuli has been removed. Cold stimuli are generally used for the diagnosis of necrotized dental pulp. In case your pulp cavity is necrotic, you will feel nothing from the cold stimulus, but it might generate a slight sensation if the pulp is even slightly inflamed.


dentists doing surgery on a patientIn this test, the endodontist will shine a strong fiber optic light through your teeth when holding a mirror on your mouth’s lingual side. The mirror’s reflection will show a variance in the color of your teeth. The color variance will denote an existing fracture in your tooth’s coronal portion.

Electric Pulp Vitality Test

This measures the vitality of your pulp tissues. The tester used is called a vital meter and measures your pulp tissues’ sensory nerve response with the passage of an electric current. Dense dentin and enamel layers will need a significant amount of electrical current to generate a response. The absence of a response generally indicates that your pulp tissue is non-viable and that you will need a root canal to remove it.

Endodontic therapy is not one which relies on guesswork or trial and error. The diagnostic procedures mentioned above are used to guarantee only that you get only the treatment you need. They can also be used after your treatment to determine its efficacy.

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