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The clinical exam can be divided into four main sections:

Icon__Dental exam

Dental Exam

Icon__Medical History

Medical History

Icon__Dental X-Rays

Dental X-Rays

Icon__Opportunity to ask questions

Opportunity to ask questions

The majority of your appointment will be spent with you in the dental chair, while your dentist completes a dental exam. This isn’t painful or uncomfortable - your dentist will use a mirror and a bright overhead light to assess your oral and dental health.

What are we looking at when we examine your teeth?

  • Plaque - a build-up of plaque can increase risk of tooth decay and periodontal issues, such as gum disease. If you have plaque in certain areas, your dentist may recommend you visit the hygienist for advice on cleaning your teeth.
  • Signs of gum disease - bleeding, swollen or tender gums can all be early signs of gum disease.
  • Periodontal pocket depth - receding gums are also a sign of more advanced gum disease. Your dentist will assess your gum health as part of the dental exam.
  • Signs of tooth decay - treating tooth decay earlier can avoid the need for root canal treatment.
  • How many teeth you have - your dentist will use the dental exam to create a unique chart for your teeth, noting any missing teeth.
  • Look at your gums and tongue - this will include screening for oral cancer symptoms.

As well as completing a dental exam, your dentist will also compile a medical history. Certain medical conditions can have a direct impact on your oral and dental health. Equally some medical conditions can impact on the focus on dental treatment and prevention. For example, if you have diabetes, increased blood sugar levels can also increase levels of plaque build up. The National Institute of Diabetes explains how this can increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

It’s also really important that your dentist is aware of regular medication and any allergies for treatment planning.


Dental x-rays in Puyallup are used to complete the dental and oral picture of your smile. Your dental exam will only show your dentist the health of teeth and gums from the outside. There are different options for dental x-rays depending on your individual smile:

  • A bitewing x-ray - gives your dentist a view of the crowns of the upper and lower teeth.
  • A periapical x-ray - gives your dentist can see the entire tooth and the surrounding bone area.
  • An occlusal x-ray - shows your dentist how your bite is working.
  • A panoramic x-ray - used to give your dentist a view of your whole mouth, rather than focusing on one area.
  • Cone beam computerized tomography - your dentist will get a 3D view of your mouth - this can be used when planning restorative dentistry.

The final part of your clinical exam will be time for you to ask any questions that you may still have or to raise any concerns that haven’t already been discussed with your oral health.

At South Hill Dental in Puyallup, we treat every clinical exam with the importance it deserves. We understand that prevention is always better than having to complete treatment later on. We will complete a thorough exam for every patient and will give advice on their oral health to avoid future dental problems.

You can also check our Frequent Asked Questions here

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(253) 845-3000

The South Hill Dental Difference



We are a family business, our team and patients are like family to us! With us you are always welcome and cared for.



We make things easy for patients with our location, ample parking, convenient hours finance options.



We invest in advanced equiment and systems to deliver precision dental care and patient comfort.


Overall Rating: 4.9 out of 5.0 (based on 188 customer reviews)

Dec 03, 2018

User Review from Google

I really appreciate the help from Katrina and Jill! I will for sure go back when I need work done!


Nov 27, 2018

User Review from Google

Had to have a last minute root canal done, they were great about fitting me in to relieve the pain. Jill and the rest of the staff made it an easy and painless procedure. I would recommend South Hill Dental.


Nov 22, 2018

User Review from Google

I had a tooth emergency and they were able to fit me in the same day I called and I wasn't even a patient. There was hardly a wait time and I was out of there in enough time to make it to work. The staff was friendly and professional.


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Contact South Hill Dental to schedule an appointment or to request additional information about our services. We look forward to hearing from you.