A comprehensive oral exam, as defined by the ADA, is: “… an extensive evaluation and the recording of all extraoral, intraoral and soft tissues”. A periodical oral exam is defined by the ADA as: “… an exam that is done on established patients to determine any changes in dental and health status since a previous comprehensive or periodic evaluation”.
It is recommended by the ADA that new dental patients undergo a comprehensive oral examination on their first visit to the dentist, and current patients have this full oral exam once every three years.
It usually takes an entire appointment slot to undergo a comprehensive oral examination. The below is a general overview of what the patient can expect from a full oral exam.
Areas to check during the comprehensive oral exam:
- Dental Examination (teeth)
- Periodontal Exam (gums and bones supporting teeth)
- Neck and Head Cancer Exam (soft tissues of mouth, throat, and surrounding structures)
- Bite analysis (Occlusal Exam)
- Radiographic Exam (various scans and x-rays)
- Salivary Function Exam (quality and quantity of saliva)
- TMJ Exam (jaw joints)
- Aesthetic Exam (how the teeth and gums look in relation to the face).
During the comprehensive oral exam, the dentist will ensure that nothing is missed so that they can understand everything about a patient’s oral health. It is recommended that the patient undergoes a full oral exam prior to any of the following procedures:
- New dentures
- Replacing lost teeth with implants
- Aesthetic changes to a patient’s smile
- Updating old dental restorations
- Diagnosis of a medical problem or disease.
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