Pulp vitality testing is a key part of a comprehensive endodontic examination. The testing is done to get a full understanding of the dental pulp’s overall health. It is used both on patients experiencing no dental pain and for those who report feeling pain due to hot or cold stimuli in a specific area of their mouth.
If a patient is in pain, the testing is performed first on the pain-free teeth, then on the part of the mouth that’s causing problems. This allows the dentist to start with a normal baseline to see how the healthy teeth respond and then compare that to unhealthy areas.
So how exactly does the testing work? There are a few different methods, which are described below.
Cold testing, also referred to as thermal, is the most common. This involves applying cold stimuli to different areas of the mouth and evaluating the immediacy, intensity and duration of the patient’s response. The patient will rate the intensity of the feeling on a 1 to 10 scale, while the dentist will measure how quickly and for how long the feeling is present.
Electric testing is rather sensitive and can be impractical to use on teeth that have full restorative coverage so it is not used often.
Cavity tests are very rare and used as a last resort when other methods fail. This is also the most invasive test as it involves drilling through enamel or fillings without anesthetic to provoke a painful response.
This is used to detect cracked teeth. The patient will bite on a provided object and if sensitivity is present, it can indicate a fracture.
This test is done by tapping the edge of your tooth with an instrument while the dentist records your responses. This is another way to see if your teeth react positively or negatively.
Things like placement of a new restorative treatment or recent periodontal surgery can affect the results, and sometimes a tooth will elicit no response. All the information gathered will show the dentist where the problem areas are and which teeth specifically need help.
What Happens Next?
At Colorado Endodontic Group, we work with our patients to diagnose and treat issues found in the test results. If further treatment is needed, we will develop a therapeutic plan tailored to your unique situation.