The comprehensive exam will include these evaluations:
Head and Neck: Your dentist will look for any problems on your head and neck, as well as feel for any swelling or tenderness (signs of infection or disease) in your lymph nodes under your jaw. Your dentist will also examine your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and their associated muscles, which allow movement of the jaw, to make sure they are working properly.
Soft Tissues: The soft tissues of your mouth include the tongue, the inside of the lips and cheeks and the floor and roof of the mouth. These areas are examined for any spots, lesions, cuts, swellings, or growths that could indicate an oral health problem. The back of your throat and tonsil area will also be inspected.
Gum Tissue: Your gums and the supporting structures of the teeth will be examined for signs of periodontal disease, including gum position and signs of inflammation, as well as tooth mobility (looseness).
Occlusion: How well your upper and lower teeth fit together and function in harmony with the way your jaw moves will be checked. Your dentist will look for signs of excessive wear or chipping of the teeth and clenching or grinding habits will be discussed. Teeth position will be evaluated for signs of crowding, crookedness or excessive spacing.
Teeth: Signs of tooth decay are looked for on the surfaces of every tooth. Your dentist will also check for any problems with fillings, braces, bridges, dentures, crowns, or other restorations.
X-rays: Your dentist will assign a certified technician to take the appropriate digital (low radiation) radiographs to look for signs of tooth decay and periodontal disease, as well as for other oral health problems, such as unerupted teeth, extra or missing teeth, tumors or cysts.