information on dental anatomy and histology, consult
the Dental Technician Training Manual, Volume 1,
NAVEDTRA 12572, or contact your local dental
treatment facility for references.
The adult mouth normally has 32 permanent teeth.
On board ship, you will usually be able to refer a
patient to a dentist for a dental problem. When you do
have to make such a referral, you must be able to
correctly describe the problem and its location (e.g.,
which tooth, which surface of the tooth, etc.) in
appropriate dental terminology. Because referrals are
infrequent, this required information will not be
covered here. However, the information is available in
detail in the Dental Technician Training Manual,
Volume 2, NAVEDTRA 12573.
Dental anatomy deals with the external form and
appearance of the teeth. Dental histology studies the
tissues and internal structure of the teeth, along with
the tissues that surround and support them. It will be
helpful to have a knowledge of dental histology in case
you need to provide emergency dental treatment.
Knowledge of dental terminology is important to
interpret emergency treatment plans prepared by
dentists and to prepare consultation sheets for referral
to dental treatment facilities.
Make sure you use
standard dental abbreviations when recording entries
in a patients dental record.
You will find some
important basic dental-related words and definitions in
the next section, Oral Diseases and Injuries. Both
the Dental Technician Training Manual Volume 2,
NAVEDTRA 12573, and the Manual of the Medical
Department, NAVMED P-117, will provide you with a
more in-depth listing of dental terminology.
Before performing an oral examination, you
should review the patients medical and dental
histories. Note the medications the patient is currently
The dental health questionnaire should be
updated if any significant changes in the patients
health status have occurred since the form was last
updated by the patient.
When you examine the oral cavity, use a thorough
and systematic approach. You must have a knowledge
of the normal dental anatomy and histology to
recognize oral diseases and injuries.
complaint that brought the patient to seek treatment
will fall into the category of either an oral disease or
condition or an oral injury.
The following are brief descriptions of the major
oral diseases or conditions and oral injuries that may be
seen during an oral examination.
Dental caries are the result of localized decay of
the calcified tissues of teeth. Bacterial plaque is
the most common cause of dental caries.
Bacteria release acids and other toxins that
attack tooth enamel and produce carious lesions
Acute pulpitis is a severe inflammation of the
tooth pulp. Usually, it is the result of dental
A periapical abscess usually results from an
infection of the tooth pulp, often developing as a
result of unchecked pulpitis.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gingival
tissue. The most frequent cause of marginal
gingivitis is poor oral hygiene.
Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG) is a
severe inflammation of the gingival tissue. NUG
may be also referred to as trench mouth. NUG
is not contagious.
Periodontitis is an inflammatory condition that
involves the gingivae, the crest of the alveolar
bone, and the periodontal membrane above the
A periodontal abscess is caused by an infection
in the periodontal tissues.
Pericoronitis is an inflammation of the gingiva
around a partially erupted tooth. It may also
result from constant contact between the tissue
flap and a tooth in the opposing arch.
Stomatitis is an inflammation of the oral
Recurrent labial herpes is an infection that
produces a fever blister or cold sore. Such a
lesion is usually found on the lip.
Postoperative hemorrhage may occur any time
from a few hours to several days after a tooth
extraction. The bleeding from the extraction site
may be light or heavy.
Treat all abnormal
postextraction bleeding as serious.