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In addition to your home oral hygiene habits, the American Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. During your routine visit, your dentist will perform a thorough examination to look for any concerns affecting the hard and soft tissues. Your dentist will check different areas of your mouth depending on the type of exam they are performing. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between a soft tissue VS a hard tissue exam in Houston.

Dental appointment

What Is a Hard Tissue Oral Exam?

A hard tissue exam includes a complete cavity check of each tooth with the results recorded in your chart. Your dentist will document every detail, including:

  • Existing work
  • Decay
  • Leakage
  • Positioning
  • Impactions
  • Required treatments

Your dentist will review both the enamel and dentin, while also looking for specific issues, like fractures, abnormal wear, changes to alignment, missing teeth, or other abnormalities. Besides the teeth, a hard tissue exam can also include bone and cementum. Diagnostic images, like digital X-rays can help your dentist examine hard tissues below the surface to monitor for any complications, like bone loss.

Women sitting at the window side

What Is a Soft Tissue Oral Examination?

A soft tissue oral examination is a bit more complex. It involves the soft tissues in the mouth, throat, gums, and tongue. Your dentist will carefully examine all areas to look for concerns, like infection or unusual lesions. You can expect the examination to include:

  • Lips: The lips and tissue inside the lips (labial mucosa) are examined to look for abnormalities.
  • Cheeks: The inside of the cheeks are called the buccal mucosa. Your dentist will use a mirror to check from one side of the mouth to the other.
  • Hard and Soft Palate and Throat: The firm area of the roof of the mouth is called the hard palate while the soft palate sits behind it. A light is used to look for any concerns to the roof of the mouth and throat.
  • Tongue: Your dentist will check all sides of the tongue by holding the tip with a piece of gauze. They’ll look for anything concerning, like swelling or ulcers. They will also consider the color of the tissue, as well as where the tongue connects to the floor of your mouth.
  • Floor of Mouth: Your salivary glands are examined to ensure they feel normal to ensure there isn’t a stone in the area.
  • Gums: Your gums are checked for any sign of infection, like redness, swelling, or bleeding.

Schedule Your Semi-annual Visit

Each semi-annual appointment is comprehensive to ensure no issues are overlooked using soft and hard tissue exams. You can invest in a healthy smile through routine care.

About Dr. Mark Gray

Dr. Mark Gray has provided comprehensive dental care since the 1980s. He’s supported by extensive experience in the dental field to provide state-of-the-art solutions. He’s trained in many areas of specialty, like aesthetics, restorative dentistry, and dental implants. Dr. Gray will help you achieve your best smile. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.