SCOPE OF ORAL DIAGNOSIS
Diagnosis is the process of identifying a disease or disease process from a study
of its appearance and effects. Since the patient is not always aware of the presence of
disease, recognition must often precede diagnosis. For this reason, both periodic
physical and dental examinations are required for Army personnel. Dental examinations
result routinely in the diagnosis of dental caries and periodontal disease, but the dental
officer does not limit his examination to dental and periodontal tissues. Because of his
training, the dental officer has the responsibility of diagnosing localized diseases of the
lips, the tongue, the oral mucosa, and the salivary glands and diagnosing changes in
such tissues that are indications or extensions of diseases at other locations in the body.
Many systemic diseases present early oral manifestations that are discovered during
routine dental examination. Thorough examination of oral tissues occasionally results in
the discovery of malignant, potentially malignant, or other serious lesions. Early
recognition of these conditions permits early, more effective, and more conservative
treatment, resulting in a more favorable prognosis.
FACILITATING PATIENT TREATMENT
No matter what type of procedure the dental officer is about to perform--amalgam
restoration, root canal, or even oral surgery--he must also perform preliminary
procedures. In order to check the condition of the patient's oral cavity and to see if any
changes have taken place since the last visit, he conducts a basic dental examination.
Secondly, the dental officer will need to administer an anesthetic prior to most restorative
or surgical procedures. The equipment, materials, and instruments used during an
examination or used for administering anesthesia are the topics for discussion in this
lesson. As a dental specialist, your primary goal is to facilitate the treatment of patients,.
Having the proper basic examination instruments ready and the anesthesia items
assembled for use will result in overall decreased chair time, help lessen patient
apprehension, and provide for quicker and more efficient treatment. As a quick reference,
the items in a typical setup are listed in Annex A.
a. Mouth Mirrors (MIRROR, MOUTH EXAMINING). Mouth mirrors (figure 1-8)
enable the dental specialist and the dental officer to see, by reflective vision, surfaces of
tissues and teeth that cannot be seen with direct vision. They aid in reflecting light into
dark areas in the mouth so tissues and teeth may be more readily seen. They can be
used to retract soft tissues of the cheek, tongue, and lips. There are two general types of
mouth mirrors: plane glass mirrors in which the reflected image is the same size as the
object being viewed and magnifying mirrors in which the reflective image provides an
enlarged view. The type of mirror used depends on the preference of the dental officer.
Mirrors are screwed to their handles at an angle to facilitate viewing and to permit
replacement after the mirror has become ineffective.