Diagnosis: to “know apart”

Making a good diagnosis is important
Dental Diagnosis, endodontic disease, root canal

It is sometimes easy to take diagnosis of dental patients less seriously than their treatment.  The diagnosis is seen as a given; as a trivial prelude to the treatment when we actually ‘help’ the patient.    This trivialization of diagnosis is amplified by the usually lower fee that patients pay compared with treatment.    But have this opinion at your peril.  Not realizing the full importance of the diagnosis is a sure way to run in to a lot of trouble.   The word diagnosis comes to us via Latin from the ancient Greek for, to “know apart”.   This is the crux of what we do when faced with a new patient, and we try to discern whether they are in health, or if not, then in what state of disease.   We try to tell health and disease apart, and then disease from disease.    It is only when we can identify the problem that we can then design a solution.    This is not an unusual thing to do.  Our daily lives are filled with an ongoing waltz of problem identification, solution design and solution implementation.   It is the three step of progress; of getting things done, and making life better.    It’s just that in medicine and dentistry, we try to complicate matters by wrapping  an everyday human effort into medical terminology.    Problem identification is called diagnosis, solution design is called treatment planning and the solution is the treatment of course.   But what if the diagnosis was not done, or was at fault?   The treatment plan and then any treatment would be at fault too, being consequential to the diagnosis.  Now you might get why diagnosis is so important.   It’s the starting point, just like if you are navigating the world and you don’t have a map.   Any movement you make could be a mistake, taking you further from your goal.    Maybe we had better take a little more care with dental diagnosis and make sure that we know the patient’s true condition, especially before we do irreversible treatment.  Dentists need to take careful note of the history, symptoms and signs, and to take the required x-ray radiographs or CT scan.    And if any patients are reading, well you too can help by giving a clear and complete history and allowing your dentist to do a thorough examination.  Oh yes, and please don’t whinge about the time and cost of the consultation.    Diagnosis is as important as the treatment; perhaps more, as the treatment totally depends on the diagnosis.