Comprehensive Oral Exam

Publication ID Published Volume
9296 December 17, 2012 8


Oral health is an integral component of total body health. Many systemic conditions have the potential to impact oral health and the latter can adversely compromise systemic health. A thorough physical examination also includes evaluation of the oral cavity and its associated structures, to screen for signs of local and systemic diseases. This presentation is intended for primary care providers of the dental and medical profession whose practice is aimed at disease prevention and early detection. It provides detailed directions on how to conduct a systematic examination of the oral cavity and use appropriate descriptive terminology to document oral mucosal findings.

This module provides health practitioners with a systematic method for evaluating the oral cavity and associated structures and by using appropriate descriptive terminology, to document and communicate their findings. It facilitates screening for oral abnormalities of local and systemic origin and promotes disease prevention and early detection. It also provides the foundation knowledge for additional oral health- related educational topics. This presentation has been used to teach medical students at UMDNJ school of Osteopathic Medicine and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School as part of a comprehensive oral health curriculum for several years. The student’s participation and performance on departmental examinations and evaluations have been favorable, and further supports inter-professional collaborations between dental and medical educators.


Rosenheck A, Fatahzadeh M. Comprehensive oral exam. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2012;8:9296.

Contains Information Suitable for Patient Education

Educational Objectives

  1. To perform the sequence of steps in a comprehensive Oral Examination (COE).
  2. To identify and use all materials and equipment needed for a COE.
  3. To communicate and interact appropriately with the patient during COE.
  4. To identify the anatomic parts of the head and neck which are examined during a COE.
  5. To describe intraoral oral findings using appropriate descriptive terminology.
  6. To record the results of a COE on a standard form.


  • Head and Neck Examination, Lymph Nodes, Extraoral, Intraoral, Mouth, Salivary Glands, Building Oral Health Capacity (BOHC) Collection

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ISSN 2374-8265