Effective diagnosis of oral disease requires a thorough examination of the entire mouth including your teeth, gums, soft tissues, bone, joints and muscles. Specifically each individual tooth is examined and any existing fillings checked for wear or break down. An examination of your gums provides us with information about the health of your gums. Bleeding gums and excessive gum pocket depths are an indication of active disease which may lead to the loss of support for your teeth.
The relationship between the upper and lower teeth, and the condition of the jaw joints and muscles are also examined for any problems. Importantly the mouth is checked for any signs of oral cancer as oral cancer is responsible for 1% of cancer deaths in Australia each year. Additional diagnostic tests are often needed, with the most common being radiographs (x-rays). This can allow us to see early decay or other problems under the gum line.
For more complex conditions, plaster casts of the teeth, photographs, and saliva testing may be prescribed. Careful recording of these examination findings provides a permanent record of your oral health and provides a baseline against which any changes can be checked in the future.
Even if we are conducting a limited oral examination for a specific problem or a toothache, a similar approach will be taken.