Examination of the oral cavity

Ask the patient to open their mouth. Use a good light source and a tongue depressor as a retractor. Systematically inspect the buccal mucosa and between the lower and upper lips and gums (Barkauskas, 2002). If the patient has dentures ask them to remove them. Check for:

  • Lichen planus, which presents as opalescent patches (Swash, 2001). Check other sites, including the genitals, to confirm.
  • Warts.
  • Kaposi's sarcoma (Pratt, 2003).
  • Oral candidiasis: the lesions are mainly on the soft palate but can extend to the dorsum of the tongue (Toghill, 1994; Walsh et al., 1999). They appear as small white raised points, on an erythematous background (Swash, 2001). It can be seen in patients who have had recent antibiotics or chemotherapy and in those who are immunosuppressed (Walsh et al., 1999).
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