What tests are available?
Cold – Cold testing tests proper tooth nerve function. Often, a refrigerant sprayed on a cotton pellet is placed on a tooth to test normal function. A healthy tooth nerve will feel sense slight discomfort from the cold and will return to normal when the cold pellet is removed.
Electric Pulp Tester (EPT) – This test sends an electrical current from a small battery through the tooth. A healthy tooth nerve with feel a tingling sensation, while an unhealthy nerve may feel no sensation at all.
Probing – Periodontal probing can be used to determine the health of the gingiva and measure the loss of the underlying bone. It is an important test to rule out “gum” pain, which a patient may confuse with tooth pain.
Percussion “tapping” – Tapping on a tooth is a helpful test to determine if the periodontal ligament connecting the tooth to the surrounding bone is inflamed. Although this test may be uncomfortable to healthy teeth, extreme sensitivity can be a sign of dental disease.
Palpation – Pressing on the gingival and bone overlying the root tips normally does not cause discomfort. A painful sensation may indicate an infection in the bone.
Mobility – Pressing on opposite sides of a tooth with dental mirror handles can test the health of the periodontal ligament and its ability to keep the tooth centered in the tooth socket.
A trained endodontist can use diagnostic skill and information obtained from the patient to determine the source of the dental pain and determine the proper treatment to treat dental disease.