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Clinical Evaluation, continued
What to Look For
Examine both the hard and soft tissues, including the lips, gums, teeth, tongue, cheeks, and palate. Look for the following:
 
Inflammation of the gums (
Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums.
gingivitis)
 
Ulcers
 
Abscesses
 
Evidence of trauma
 
Masses
 
Enamel defects
 
Chipped, broken, or missing teeth
 
Pattern of tooth eruption
 
Malocclusion: An abnormality in the coming together of teeth.
Malocclusion or misalignment
 
Caries

Examine closely along the gum line for plaque and dental caries at any stage of progression (eg, white spot lesions, cavitation). A thorough examination requires lifting the upper lip and lowering the bottom lip to check along the gum line. Document your findings and refer children with abnormalities to a dental provider.
 
 
A complete oral examination should be part of every routine visit, starting at 6 months of age.
 
The most important tools include a good light source and a tongue depressor.
 
The knee-to-knee exam is often best for young children.
 
It is important to examine the gum line for plaque and all stages of dental caries, as caries usually begin along the gum line.
 
It is important to document all findings and refer any abnormalities to a dental provider.
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