Monday, October 2nd, 2017| Posted in Latest Article

When a patient pays a visit to the dentist, the first step would be an oral examination.

What is oral examination?

Also known as dental examination, oral examination is an inspection of the teeth and surrounding soft tissues of the oral cavity. The dentist or hygienist generally uses an explorer, a slender steel instrument with a flexible, sharp point, to probe the minute indentations on tooth surfaces and around dental restorations for signs of demineralization and caries development. Fillings are also inspected, and a radiographic record or imaging of the teeth is usually made. The examiner may also insert a periodontal probe into the soft-tissue sulcus around each tooth to measure the depth of each sulcus and to explore for calculus and root defects. The examination should include inspection of the floor of the mouth, all surfaces of the tongue, the salivary glands and ducts, and the lymph nodes of the neck in order to detect pathology.

What to expect during an oral examination?

First, the dentist checks your teeth for cavities and broken fillings or crowns. Dental decay may appear as a hole or sometimes as a dark shadow underneath the surface of the enamel. If there is a hole in a tooth the dentist may place a temporary filling to stop food accumulating in it. The dentist will then check the gums and your general oral hygiene to ensure there are no problems there. They may use a special probe to test the depth of the pockets around your teeth in order to detect gum disease early.

Finally the soft tissues are checked for ulcerations or other lesions. The dentist may also check the jaws and associated muscles. The dentist may then take radiographs if necessary. Usually two small radiographs of your back teeth are taken every two years or when you attend a new dentist. These show any hidden decay between the teeth and the level of the bone which may indicate periodontal disease.

What are the benefits of oral examination?

Oral exam ensures your oral health care. It must be performed periodically so that potential problems will be identified early and appropriate actions will be carried out. Tooth decay can, if left untreated, cause the total loss of a tooth within a year.

Oral examinations also go beyond looking for current problems. This is when the dentist can have full access to a patients’ medical history, making them aware of any prior health conditions that could currently affect how they proceed with their treatment.

Lastly, just by examining the mouth, the dentist can assess the health of teeth and gums, predict possible oral health problems and screen for oral cancer.

For more information about how an oral examination is done and how often do you need it, please call or visit Sandalwood Dental Clinic.