I see this as the beginning of the management of a patient - an essential step in determining not only treatment but also prognosis. It is a label that categorises a patient to help us help them.
As such, I don't necessarily see a diagnosis as only something relating to what we would normally recognise as a 'disease', that is, caries, perio, apical abscess, etc. A diagnosis may relate to other problems the patient has:
- orthodontic problem (e.g. crowding or increased overjet)
- aesthetic problem (e.g. a median diastema that causes this particular patient concern - a problem others might not see as such)
- functional problem (e.g. a lack of alveolar ridge, which results in problems retaining a denture)