How are oral health problems diagnosed?

Many oral health problems can be diagnosed and treated before they become serious and cause damage. During a visit to your oral healthcare provider, a hygienist and dentist will visually examine your mouth, teeth, and gums for any visible signs of disease. An oral cancer exam will be conducted so that any signs of possible malignancies can be tested. X-rays may be taken to diagnose problems in areas that cannot be seen with the naked eye. You should have an exam twice a year, as well as whenever symptoms of oral health problems occur.

Peggy Rosen

Oral health problems are diagnosed by:

  1. Visual examination by the dentist using dental explorer, periodental probe, tongue blade and dental mirror
  2. Patients history of symptoms and family history
  3. X-rays
  4. Tapped test, ice test and electrical test
  5. Biopsy
  6. Intra oral camera
  7. Disclosing tablets
  8. Study models
  9. Swab culture
  10. Palpation
The first step is to have a discussion with your dentist as to what is your chief concern, your needs and your desires. A comprehensive oral exam including an evaluation of your teeth, gums and occlusion (your bite) with x-rays will reveal much information about your oral health. Follow up tests and photographs can aid in the proper treatment for you.
Dentists diagnose oral health problems by asking you questions, examining your mouth, and if necessary, taking x-rays or other images. They may also test for the presence of bacteria or other signs of disease. A dental appointment usually begins with questions about anything you have experienced related to the health of your mouth. It continues with the dentist or hygienist looking at your teeth and gums and sometimes probing for sensitive areas. X-rays can reveal signs of disease hidden inside gums, bones, and teeth.

Diagnosis of oral health problems depends on the problem. Problems can range from tooth decay to periodontal (gum) disease. If you are concerned about your oral health you should speak with your dentist. They will be able to diagnose and discuss possible treatments.

Oral problems are diagnosed by clinical exam and evaluation, consideration of symptoms, testing including radiographs, tooth vitality testing and biopsy where indicated. The findings and results are used to determine a diagnosis, cause and treatment.

At times the problem or tooth may seem obvious, but the obvious may not be the actual problem, such as in referred pain, tooth pain related to sinus problems or even jaw pain related to a heart attack.

Continue Learning about Tooth & Mouth Disorders

Are there alternative treatments for temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
While the treatment options for TMD cannot be classified as alternative treatments, many depend on t...
More Answers
Can burning mouth syndrome change how my mouth looks?
Burning mouth syndrome will not change the appearance of your mouth. Burning mouth syndrome can ...
More Answers
What is burning mouth in women related to?
Burning mouth is a painful condition that some women develop. Its cause is unknown, although researc...
More Answers
Can Gum Disease Affect Your Overall Health?
Can Gum Disease Affect Your Overall Health?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.