Lifestyle and personal factors can affect the overall condition of your teeth. Your dentist will inspect your teeth and may take x-rays. A dental examination can identify problems such as decay, enamel defects, tooth sensitivity, discolouration, chips or cracks, broken-down fillings, misaligned teeth and gum disease.
The dentist will inspect the teeth and surrounding soft tissues of the oral cavity. The dentist generally uses an explorer, a slender instrument with a flexible, sharp point, to probe the minute indentations on tooth surfaces and around dental restorations for signs of demineralization and caries development. Fillings are also inspected, and an X-ray image of the teeth is sometimes taken when required. The dentist may also insert a periodontal probe into the soft-tissue sulcus around each tooth to measure the depth of each sulcus and to explore for calculus and root defects. The examination should include inspection of the floor of the mouth, all surfaces of the tongue, the salivary glands and ducts, and the lymph nodes of the neck.