Examination of the Oral Cavity


  • Introduce yourself to the patient
  • Wash your hands
  • Briefly explain to the patient what the examination involves

Approach the examination in a systematic way but be prepared to be instructed to move on quickly to certain sections by any examiner.

The Oral Cavity

Ask patient to open mouth wide (use a pen tourch or otoscope if needed)

  • Inspect the surface of the tongue and the hard palate

Use a tongue depressor to allow movement of the oral cavity contents

  • Inspect the uvula and soft palate
  • Examine the buccal area and the gingivolabial (gingivobuccal) sulcus
    • Inspect lateral, superior, and inferior walls
  • Ask the patient to lift their tongue in the air
    • Inspect the floor of the mouth (use the tongue depressor if needed)

Use a tongue depressor to move the tongue down

  • Inspect the uvula, tonsillar tissue, palatal folds, and posterior pharyngeal wall
Fig 1 - The hard palate, soft palate, uvula, tonsils and tongue.

Fig 1 – The hard palate, soft palate, uvula, tonsils and tongue.

Completing the Examination

Remember, if you have forgotten something important, you can go back and complete this.

To finish the examination, stand back from the patient and state to the examiner that to complete your examination, you would like to perform a:

  • Flexible nasoendoscope (to examine the nasopharynx and larynx)

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