Dental radiography unit
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.
Figure 5. Standard wall-mounted dental radiography units with articulating arms are easy to position and give a detailed image
of dental pathology.
EQUIPMENT FOR PERFORMING DENTAL EXTRACTION
In many cases, instruments specialized for veterinary patients will make the extraction process easier on both you and your
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.
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).
Figure 6. A Molt periosteal elevator for developing a mucogingival flap.
Wiggs winged dental elevators
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
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.
Small-breed extraction forceps
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.
Figure 8. Small-breed extraction forceps are versatile and small enough for use in cats and small dogs.