How Does the Dentist Assess Teeth?

  • A full history and clinical examination are a first for any dental assessment; however, often in necessary cases if a particular tooth is sore, the dentist will go through various special tests on the teeth to check their health.

Common Special Tests:

Checking the occlusion (the bite)

  • Prior the restorative management of a tooth it would be important to assess a patient’s occlusion. The occlusion is often assessed by checking the facial structure along with the dental excursions or lateral slide of the bite as the teeth go side to side. Further, the occlusion can also be checked with bite paper; this will show the bite pattern. 

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Skygate Dental Special Tests

Skygate Dental Special Tests

  • May be indicated to assess the tooth for cracks or fractures. This is important as it will affect the restorative management of the tooth. Where it is diagnosed that a cuspal replacement may be insufficient and further options may needed such as a crown, or removal of the old restoration and a large restoration may be indicated.


  • Percussion tests are indicated to sufficiently assess the health of the tooth, before any restorative management is under-taken. The adjacent teeth should also be tested to standardize the results. To test the tooth the blunt end of the mouth mirror may be used. Further, both vertical and horizontal percussion tests should be done. A positive response is indicative of periradicular inflammation. This may lead to further investigations of to the health of the pulp; or it may indicate occlusal trauma.

Periodontal Probing

  • Is used to assess gums around the tooth. An instrument that is similar in design to a measuring stick is used to measure around the tooth. A standard reading would be 1-3 mm where > 3 mm can indicated gum disease.

Study models

  • Study models may be taken to allow for further evaluation. This will allow for a better understanding of the patients’ bite and occlusion and what  treatment options can be considered to remedy the imbalance.


  • A radiograph is a useful special test for diagnosing of caries of periodontal disease. 

Pulp Test

  • Depending on the responses from the percussion tests. Further assessment of the tooth’s vitality may be warranted. This can be done via a pulp test, either electric or cold. Depending on the patients reaction to the pain and whether it is transient, sharp then subsides, lingers, or no response, the health of the tooth can be assessed.

If you wish for more information on dental radiographs please do not hesitate to contact Skygate Dental today on (07) 3114 1199 or 0406 579 197.