Assessment Step 3: The Facial Exam

The best possible long-term treatment outcome is directly related to exam findings and immediate treatment. Most oral conditions, such as broken teeth and periodontal disease, can be briefly evaluated on an awake patient. Further assessment (x-rays, probing, biopsy) is required under general Anaesthesia to tailor specific therapy.

Oral Examination of the Conscious Patient

While looking into the patient’s eyes, feel along the upper and lower jaws for signs of:

  • One side of the face differing from the other side
  • Differences in eye opening sizes
  • Eye or nasal discharge
  • Discomfort from compression of facial structures
  • Swelling
Facial swelling under the eye from a broken upper 4th premolar


Check for enlarged lower jaw lymph nodes indicative of infection, inflammation or cancer. Then examine the animal's lips to make sure they're not swollen or inflamed.

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