Dental Corner: Properly equip your dental suite - Veterinary Medicine
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Dental Corner: Properly equip your dental suite


Dental radiography unit

Figure 5. Standard wall-mounted dental radiography units with articulating arms are easy to position and give a detailed image of dental pathology.
Although the periodontal probe is an extremely sensitive instrument to assess periodontal disease, it does not provide the full clinical picture. Intraoral radiographs more accurately estimate the degree and character of perio dontal bone loss. Additionally, if tooth mobility is not due to periodontal disease, intraoral radiographs can shed light on the true problem. Intraoral radiography is superior to skull radiography for assessing the perio dontal tissues because it eliminates superimposition and provides better resolution. The dental radiography unit is relatively small and is installed in the dental operatory for maximum convenience (Figure 5). In addition to the radiography unit, dental film and appropriate developing equipment must be acquired. A digital dental radiography unit is an alternative to a film-based system.


In many cases, instruments specialized for veterinary patients will make the extraction process easier on both you and your patient.

Dental radiography unit

In addition to being a diagnostic aid, intraoral radiography is important for preoperative and intraoperative planning of dental extractions. Preoperative radiographs will help you determine how difficult the extraction will be and whether complications are probable. Intraoperative or postoperative radiographs are indicated to confirm the removal of all root fragments.

Periosteal elevator

Figure 6. A Molt periosteal elevator for developing a mucogingival flap.
Most dental extractions require developing a mucoperiosteal flap for ease of extraction and proper closure of the extraction site. A periosteal elevator is a flat, sharp instrument that is passed between the periosteum and bone to separate the mucoperiosteal flap from the bone. A variety of periosteal elevators are available, and the choice is based on the size of your patient and your personal preference. Two popular types, Molt and Freer, resemble flat spoons (Figure 6).

Wiggs winged dental elevators

Figure 7. The working end of a Wiggs winged dental elevator. Note that the end is thin and slightly curved. This instrument should be kept sharpened for optimal use.
Other styles of dental elevators are available, but we think Wiggs winged dental elevators are the most versatile for veterinary dentists. The working ends of these instruments are curved to better adapt to the conical shape of canine and feline teeth and come in a variety of sizes (Figure 7). The end should be kept sharp for cutting the periodontal ligament during extractions. Always remember to keep your index finger near the working end to reduce the potential of iatrogenic trauma to your patient such as orbital penetration.7

Small-breed extraction forceps

Figure 8. Small-breed extraction forceps are versatile and small enough for use in cats and small dogs.
Many veterinary practices have an odd assortment of dental extraction forceps that are usually designed for people and are often inappropriate for veterinary use. They are often too large to use in veterinary patients and are also specialized for a particular tooth. Small-breed extraction forceps are versatile and small enough to use with most cats and small to medium-sized dogs (Figure 8). Forceps should only be used when the tooth has been properly elevated and is mobile. Forcibly extracting teeth with extraction forceps may lead to fractured roots or iatrogenic fracture.


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