Oral examinations

Oral examinations by a dentist are crucial to assessing your oral health. Only a dentist is trained to see and diagnose disease and dysfunction in the mouth and jaw.

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During your oral examination the dentist will assess:
  • damaged, missing or decayed teeth
  • early signs of cavities
  • the condition of your gums, such as periodontal pockets, inflammation or other signs of gum disease (which can lead to tooth and bone loss)
  • state of previous dental work such as root canals, fillings and crowns
  • early signs of mouth or throat cancer, such as white lesions or blocked salivary glands
  • other suspicious growths or cysts
  • the position of your teeth (e.g., spacing, bite)
  • signs that you clench or grind your teeth (a treatable problem that can cause a headache or sore jaw and can, if serious, lead to hearing loss and tooth loss)
  • signs of bleeding or inflammation on your tongue and on the roof or floor of your mouth
  • the overall health and function of your temporomandibular joint (which joins the jaw to the skull), signs of disorders that can cause pain or tenderness
  • the general condition of the bones in your face, jaw and around your mouth

X-rays may also be needed to detect problems between teeth, under the gumline and the position of impacted teeth and cracks or fractures.