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The clinical exam can be divided into four main sections:

1. Dental exam

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.
Woman patient being checked
2. Medical History

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.

3. Dental X-Rays

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.
Mouth xray of a patient
4. Opportunity to ask questions

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

Book Your Clinical Exam Now

(253) 845-3000



  • Part of the Puyallup community since 1984
  • A family business with deep rooted connections and multi-generational patients
  • Annual Free Dental day to bring care to everyone


  • Same day and Saturday appointments
  • Make it easy for families to be seen together
  • Convenient location, hours, flexible finance options and ample parking


  • Part of the Puyallup community since 1984
  • A family business with deep rooted connections and multi-generational patients
  • Annual Free Dental day to bring care to everyone


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

User Review from Google

May 17, 2018

I had the best experience today with everyone in their office. Very polite. All smiles and professional. I hadn’t been to the dentist in several years because of a very bad experience. But I will definitely be coming back to their office for all my cleaning and future needs.


User Review from Google

May 30, 2018

My experience was great! They have amazing people and amazing service!


User Review from Facebook

Jun 5, 2018

It was a great experience. They made sure that they answered all of my questions and understood all of my options. I’m so happy that I found them.