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The Full Mouth Dental Examination – It is more than just having a look at your teeth.

Contrary to what some may believe, the dental examination a.k.a. check up is NOT an appointment where the dentist will just have a look at your teeth and then list out the teeth which require dental works followed by a price quote for these works. It is much more than that.

One of the very first things we like to do is to get to know our client and their goals for their teeth in the long run. Knowing these goals and expectations can significantly help us to formulate an optimal long term treatment plan for you. Listed below is everything done during your check up appointment. If you find reading this too long winded, feel free to skip all the way to the summary list at the below and continue reading from there on 🙂

Oral hygiene is the next thing we look at during the dental examination. Poorer oral hygiene poses a risk factor and generally results in more dental problems. Early identification and recognition of this risk will allow us to give appropriate home care advice to our clients.

We then start looking at all the teeth as a whole. Any missing, damaged, decayed, cracked, worn teeth are noted. Taking basic dental x-rays (posterior bite wing x-rays) allow us to further detect any problems which are occurring in between your teeth where they cannot be seen by the naked eye. Here at Pathway Dental, we take it one more step further. For all new clients, we include a panoramic x-ray into our full dental examination. This panoramic x-ray will allow us to evaluate many more things such as wisdom teeth, possible cysts or infections, the jaw bone health, any abnormal growths, and also the jaw joints to a certain extent.

The gums are then examined. Gums are analogous to the foundation which our homes are built on. Strong healthy gums allow for stable healthy teeth. Teeth with severe gum disease is almost like a house on a red zone land for those of us in Christchurch. The tricky part about gum problems is that most people are usually unaware they have it until it is too late.

We also check all the structures around your mouth (floor of mouth, tongue, cheeks, lips, and palate) to ensure there are no abnormal or suspicious growths or signs which can sometimes be early stages of oral cancer.

Depending on cases, the way the teeth bite against each other, the jaw joint and also the cosmetics concerns of the clients teeth are taken into account as well.

Once all the assessments and observations are done, we will list all the noted problems and for each problem, all available treatment options will be provided (and quoted) and explained. In the medical field, including dentistry, there is usually more than one treatment option for each problem. Each option usually varies in cost and has its own pros and cons.


Summary of what we do during your dental check up:

1) We find out your goals and expectations. Basically what you want out of your teeth.

2) Oral hygiene is evaluated and risk factors to your dental health are determined.

3) Teeth are checked. Any problematic ones are tested and diagnosed.

4) Multiple X-rays and photos are taken.

5) Jaw bone health and jaw joints are checked.

6) Any infections or cysts are identified.

7) Gum health and condition is assessed.

8) Visual oral cancer screening.

9) Cosmetic concerns and bite check etc.

10) Will provide tips and guides on how take care of your dental health based on your situation.

11) Treatment planning, discussion.

12) Dental report and treatment cost quotes.


In life, the best solution for any problems can only be made once we are aware and understand all the existing problems. This is no different in the dental world too.

Following up from our previous blog post, we would like to now explain why just wanting to see a dentist to manage just the one problematic tooth while not having a check up is not ideal. By dealing with only this one problematic tooth, we as dentist can provide you with all the available treatment options for that particular tooth but are unable to further advise you (and you will not then be fully informed) as to which treatment option is actually the suitable one for you in the long run.

Take this scenario for example; You call in to see a dentist for one broken back tooth and do not want to have any full mouth check up done. You find that this tooth will either need to be removed or to have root canal treatment done. You are very determined to save this tooth (which is good) and you decide to invest in the root canal treatment option. However, unbeknownst to you and the dentist, you actually have lots of other infected teeth and the survivability of these other teeth are poor. You spend your good money fixing that one single problematic tooth. Over the course of the next year, the infected teeth start to cause you pain and you finally decide to have check up done then. From the check up you then only know the true state of your teeth. You decide that it would actually be in your best interest to have a full set of false teeth instead. Eventually, you end up spending money again to have the tooth which was root canal treated removed in order to make way for the full set of false teeth. On hindsight, it would have been better to actually have that problematic tooth removed in the first place had you known about the true state of your teeth. (As mentioned earlier, this is just an example scenario. The situation could work the other way around and can vary in many ways. There are also exceptional cases where these do not apply. However, the overall point of this example is to give you an idea as to why having a check up first prior to getting your treatment done is important). As dentists, we truly want to provide you with what’s best for you taking all factors into account.

We hope that this post will provide you with a deeper understanding about a full mouth dental examination and why it is crucial to have it done prior to having treatment done. Feel free to leave a comment or any questions if you would like to know more.