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Assessing the Mouth and


Smile your Heart Out

Anatomy of the Mouth
• Following areas
need to be
– Lips
– Mucous Membranes
– Gums
– Teeth
– Tongue
– Salivary Glands
– Hard and Soft Palate
– Tonsils
– Tonsilar Pillars
– Posterior Oropharynx
Mouth and Oropharynx
• Function
– Vocalization
– Air Passage
– Passage for Food
– Initiation of Digestion
– Sensory Organ
Mouth Problems
• Dental caries
• Periodontal disease (pyorrhea)
• Plaque
• Tartar
• Gingivitis
• Glossitis
• Parotitis
• Sordes
Assessing the Mouth and
• Inquire if the client has any history of
the following:
• Routine pattern of dental care, last visit
to dentist
• Length of time ulcers or other lesions
have been present
• Denture discomfort
• Medications client is receiving
Lips and Buccal Mucosa
• Inspect the outer lips for symmetry
of contour, color, and texture
• Uniform pink color, soft, moist smooth
• Ability to purse lips
• Symmetry of contour
Inspect and palpate the inner lips
and buccal mucosa for color,
moisture, texture and presence of
Teeth and Gums
• Inspect the teeth
and gums while
examining the
inner lips and
buccal mucosa
• Inspect the
Tongue/Floor of the Mouth
• Inspect the
surface of the
tongue for
position, color
and texture
• Inspect the
Tongue/Floor of the Mouth
• Inspect the
base of the
tongue, the
mouth floor,
and the
• Palpate the
tongue and the
floor of the
mouth for any
lumps, nodules
or excoriated
Palates and Uvula
• Inspect the hard and soft palate for
color, shape, texture and the
presence of bony prominences
• Inspect the uvula for position and
mobility while examining the palate.
Ask the client to say “ah” so that the
soft palate rises
Oropharynx and Tonsils
• Inspect the
oropharynx for
color and texture
• Inspect the
tonsils for color,
discharge, and
• Elicit the gag
reflex by
pressing the
posterior tongue
Lifespan Considerations
• Infants:
• Inspect the palate and uvula for a cleft
• First teeth erupt at about 6 to 7 months
of age


Lifespan Considerations
• Children
• White spots on the teeth may indicate
excessive fluoride ingestion
• Drooling is common up to 2 years of age
• Tonsils are normally larger in children
than adults it may extend beyond the
palatine arc until the age of 11 or 12
years old
Lifespan Considerations
• Elders
• Oral mucosa may be drier than that of
younger persons
• Taste sensations diminish
• Teeth may show signs of staining,
erosion and abrasion
• Gag reflex may be sluggish