Oral Exam

What is a Dental oral exam?

The oral exam usually consists of a uniform and consistent assessment and inspection of the head and neck and also an intraoral evaluation of the hard and soft tissues, along with a complete check on the medical and dental history of the patient.

The dentist usually perform a complete inspection of the oral cavity irrespective of the patient’s complain and reason for visiting the dental clinic. The complete knowledge of the patient’s medical and dental history along with the careful examinations will help in establishing the correct diagnosis and in turn provide the appropriate treatment to the patient’s problems.

Oral Examination is conducted on the Oral cavity to diagnose and treat the diseases that affect it.

What is Oral Cavity?

It is the first part of the digestive tract. It comprises of the region between the lips and the oropharynx. It functions as a first line of protection and is also crucial for speech, swallowing, mastication, and digestion and also for taste sensation.

The oral cavity is shaped in the form of an oval. It is divided into 2 parts: the Oral Vestibule and the Oral Cavity Proper. The oral cavity comprises of the lips on the anterior side, the buccal mucosae on the lateral side, the floor of the mouth on the inferior side, while the oropharynx and the palate comprises the posterior and superior sides respectively.

The oropharynx begins from the top of the junction between the hard and soft palates and below the circumvallate papillae of the tongue. The oral cavity’s bony structure consists of the mandibular and maxillary bones.

Oral Cavity Diseases

The diseases that can affect the oral cavity can be classified into the following groups:

  • Developmental Diseases
  • Reactive or Inflammatory Diseases
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Neoplastic or Pre-Neoplastic Diseases
  • Autoimmune and Immune Mediated Diseases
  • Metabolic Diseases

What happens in an Oral Exam?

Stage I:
The oral examination begins with the Enquiry stage where the dentist will ask the patient about their medical and dental history, the medications that they have used and the ones they are consuming now.

Stage II:
Then the dentist will conduct the physical examinations with an Extraoral inspection for possible lesions (like rash, erythema and pigmentation) identification, and also for any swelling or facial symmetry.

The dentist will examine the head and neck by touching and feeling for any tenderness. The patient will be asked to open and close the mouth a couple of times to check for any limited opening, deviations or symmetries.

The dentist will then conduct a cranial nerve examination for assessing any possible neurosensory and neuromuscular deficits.

Stage III:
The dentist will then conduct the Intraoral examination where the dentist will check for any intraoral lesion looking for the size, extent, thickness, color, texture, consistency and tenderness.

The major salivary gland will be palpated and milked to check the opening of the salivary gland duct orifices, the flow of the saliva and also the saliva quality.

The teeth would also be examined for any possible decays, fractures, mobility, restoration defects, and recession to gingivitis. The bone loss is also checked by inspection, palpating and tapping on the bone.

Authored By Dr Sanjay N - Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopaedics, Bangalore

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