The Components of a Good Dental Examination, Part 2

Our previous article listed the importance of the medical history, full mouth x-rays, and the CT Scan. Let’s move now to the clinical examination. 

Despite the technology, we can’t understand the full function as well as the potential disease components without a clinical examination. Periodontal pockets, tooth decay, how the teeth meet, soft tissue evaluation, jaw joint and muscle evaluation all are a part of the clinical exam.

Let’s go over a few elements of our twenty-seven step clinical examination. These steps can be done very quickly and painlessly. 

Head and neck and soft tissue examination–Palpation and visualization of the head and neck allows us to see any abnormalities that might be present. This is often called an “oral cancer exam” but also reveals to us other abnormalities related to cysts, benign growths, sometimes even malnutrition as a result of g.i. Issues.

Angle’s Class–This is a classification of the bite developed by Dr. Edward Angle. An Angle’s class I is the normal relationship. An Angle’s class II is often distinguished by overdevelopment of the upper jaw, an underdevelopment of the lower jaw, or a combination of each. This may mean, particularly in a periodontally-diseased tooth or teeth, that there are abnormal forces on the teeth compromising their longevity. An Angle’s class III is an underdevelopment of the upper jaw or overdevelopment of the lower jaw or a combination of each. 

An orthodontist, therefore, becomes an important member of the dental team. Teeth that meet abnormally often break or become loosened prematurely. It is therefore often to your advantage to correct tooth relationships as part of an overall rehabilitation of your bite.

In our next article, we will discuss how we look at diseases of the teeth themselves. We’ll then talk about the importance of sequencing dental treatment. 

Lee N. Sheldon, DMD

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