During a dental examination, the teeth and gums as well as the tissues outside the mouth, eg, Jaw joint, lips, are checked for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, tooth wear, joint pathology and oral cancer. In the younger patient, the developing dentition is also examined.
The frequency of dental check ups may be determined by consulting the FGDP guidelines – up to 6 monthly intervals may be advised for patients at high risk, eg, patients on medications causing a dry mouth and predisposing them to cavities, or up to 24 month intervals for the ‘low risk’ patient with no oral disease or risk factors.
Check up xrays are taken according to FGDP guidelines. ‘Bitewing’ xrays are most frequently taken to check for signs of decay in between the teeth, which may not be visible on examination. The bone levels around the teeth are also examined for signs of gum disease. These xrays may need to be supplemented by ‘Periapical’ radiographs to give a more accurate picture of the bony support for the teeth, or if there is evidence that there could be infection at the root of a tooth.
Photos may be taken if there are any soft tissue lesions, eg, Ulcers, so that healing may be monitored, or if the patient presents with signs of tooth wear, also to permit monitoring.
A ‘Basic Periodontal Examination’ is performed as a routine screening examination for gum disease. https://www.bsperio.org.uk/publications/good_practitioners_guide_2016.pdf?v=3