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The Intraoral and Extraoral Exam

Course Number: 337


The body of the mandible will be examined using direct and indirect vision followed by digital palpation of the entire structure.  The tissues of the floor of the mouth should be stretched away from the inferior border of the mandible with a mouth mirror (Figures 40 and 41).

Figure 40. Use the mirror to stretch the tissue away from the inferior border of the mandible.

Figure 41. The mirror is used to visualize the anterior lingual portion of the mandible

Digitally palpate the body of the mandible along the lingual and facial surfaces (Figure 42). Normal tissues will be a homogenous coral pink and have a firm consistency with no visible or palpable lesions. Mandibular tori and exostoses are the most common atypical findings in this area. The retromolar area may present with partially erupted third molars or scarring from third molar extraction. This area is also prone to hyperkeratosis from constant friction from masticatory function. Pathologic findings include:

  • Traumatic lesions – ulcers, abrasions

  • Infections – pericoronitis (Figure 43)

  • Neoplastic growths

  • Leukoplakia associated with spit tobacco

Figure 42. Use digital palpation pressing the tissues against the body of the mandible for both the lingual and the facial aspects.

Figure 43. Painful pericoronitis surrounding partially erupted #32.