A few weeks back I got a request on my OyeHelp online dental advice portal for a consultation from a Delhi based patient who complained of continuous pain in one of her molars. The pain had been troubling her for about 5 days and would exacerbate every time she would eat or lie down to sleep. Before I probed further into her complaint, I asked her if there was pain, swelling or any discomfort anywhere else in her mouth. She nonchalantly told me of a small swelling she’s had in her right lower back jaw region for last 3 years which wasn’t painful.
I made a note and started probing both, the pain and the swelling. I ordered a dental radiographic investigation and gave her a follow up appointment during which I made a diagnosis of:
• Apical periodontitis with periapical abscess (swelling in the ligaments joining the tooth to jaw bone) which was the cause of her pain
• Periapical cyst (hollowed out infection in the bone) which was the cause of her swelling; had the cyst grown bigger, it would have damaged the bone
Now you must be wondering what the point of this anecdote is. It is to highlight the importance of right and holistic diagnosis. If there is one golden rule in medical community, it is to find the root cause of a problem. Once the cause is diagnosed, the problem gets solved easily. And that is what we doctors do best – diagnose!
What are infections?
As dentist, we battle infections every day. If I had to describe infection, I’d probably say it is a strong, powerful, dynamic and an interesting entity which grossly yet subtly, aggressively yet slowly damages the beautiful structures of our body. It camouflages itself as a meager entity giving out a few symptoms here and there when in reality it actually is a ticking time bomb – the challenge is to defuse it in time.
The trick lies in wholesome diagnosis – noting down even the slightest of abnormality and further probing it to find its origin. We aim to detect and understand this particular entity in its entirety to intervene as and when detected. We also try to give an objective perspective to our patients to bring out hidden symptomless infections of which patient is unaware and establish a wholesome diagnosis.
No treatment is effective without a correct diagnosis
According to Burkitt’s Oral Medicine and Radiology book, diagnostic procedures assist doctors in establishing a treatment plan directed at a disease process. With a risk of sounding redundant, I would emphasize it again, a treatment plan directed at a disease process.
Scientific Procedure of a Diagnosis
Here is quick snapshot of how we perform diagnosis.
1. Obtain and record the patient’s medical history.
2. Examine the patient’s symptoms.
3. Acquire additional information required to make a final diagnosis, such as relevant lab and imagining studies and consultations from other clinicians.
4. Formulate a plan of action, including oral health care modifications and necessary medical referrals.
Prognosis and Treatment
Once we establish a diagnosis with expertise, we can give you various treatment plans specific to the diseases diagnosed and modified to suit your needs in your best interest. A rational, scientific or definitive treatment plan is defined as a plan of treatment which is directed at the causes of the patient’s symptoms rather than at the symptoms themselves. Relieving a patient of pain is a part of a treatment and not complete treatment itself as opposed to relieving a patient of the cause of the pain. A good prognosis is absence of disease and not the absence of symptoms.
Remember folks, healing can only happen by treating the cause of the disease and not the symptoms. As doctors we strive every day to achieve that one objective – HEALING.
Your Dental Health
Imagine being able to receive diagnosis about your oral and dental health without having to leave the comfort of your home. E-dental visits or online dental consultations can enable you to get in touch with your doctor, seek diagnosis of your disease and design various treatment plans suitable to your needs to both effectively and efficiently counter the pathology.
At the end of the day, we want to reach out to you so that you can take care of yourself! And now you can use the ‘online’ way to reach us, at your convenience. After all, when you can get groceries, phones, clothes and even vegetables from the comfort of your home, why shouldn’t you be able to get an online dental consultation?
This post has been submitted by Dr. Tandeep Malhotra and edited by OyeHelp.