76 Where There Is No Dentist 2012
A GOOD DIAGNOSIS
You are making a diagnosis when you decide what a person’s problem is
and what is causing it. To do this, you need information. You need to make
a careful examination to make a good diagnosis.
Learn all you can about the person’s problem:
1. Ask questions about the problem.
2. Look at the person’s face. Think about the person’s age.
3. Examine the mouth more carefully than before.
4. Touch the place that is sore.
1. Ask the person about the problem.
Give a sick person a chance to
describe how he is feeling.
Listen. Think about what possibly is
happening in his mouth.
You may have an idea about what
the person has. Now try to find out
more by asking questions:
• What is the problem? Ask him
to talk about the pain, swelling,
bleeding, or whatever he is feeling.
• Where does it feel that way? See if he can put his finger on the tooth
or place that is bothering him.
• When do you have the most pain? Find out if it happens all
the time or only some of the time (for example, when he drinks
something very cold).
• When did it start? Find out if he has already had this problem before.
Ask how he took care of it.
• Have you had an accident or injury lately? Infection still inside the
bone from an old injury in the mouth can make a sore on his face, or
can start swelling.
• Are you having other problems? A head cold or fever can make the
• How old are you? Think about a new tooth coming into the mouth.
After you hear the answers to your questions, decide if your original idea
is the correct diagnosis. If not, try to think of another possibility and ask
more questions. This is the scientific method of making a diagnosis.
For a good explanation of scientific method, see Chapter 17 of Helping
Health Workers Learn.