Electrical Pulp Testing: Sources of Error

Jonathan F. Richards, Scott B. McClanahan, Walter R. Bowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Accurate identification and assessment of an inflamed or necrotic tooth is essentialfor endodontic treatment. The purpose of this research was to investigate possible sources of error associated with the use of the electric pulp tester (EPT).

METHODS: Forty-six intact teeth (23 tooth pairs) in 22 patients were evaluated in vivo. For the tooth pairs, one tooth had to have been previously endodontically treated and restored with a class II amalgam restoration. The restoration was required to have proximal contact with a class II amalgam of another vital posterior tooth. EPT was performed on pulpless and vital teeth for experimental groups (enamel, restoration, contacting, or isolated).

RESULTS: The highest rate of false positive responses (82%) was found in the pulpless restored contacting group, suggesting that EPT impulses are able to travel through proximal metallic contacts and stimulate teeth distant from the EPT probe. All vital tooth groups had a high rate of positive responses with no significant diferences.

CONCLUSIONS: If a tested tooth contains an interproximal restoration contacting adjacent restorations or the gingival, the teeth must be isolated (rubber dam) and the EPT probe should be placed in a region suspected to have uninterrupted tubule paths to the pulp.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNorthwest dentistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


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