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Saving teeth versus extraction: considerations and nursing care

02 March 2016
19 mins read
Volume 7 · Issue 2


As techniques progress in veterinary medicine, alternative treatments are available for a wide range of diseases and pathologies and veterinary professionals should be discouraged from automatically adopting a traditional approach to the treatment of their patients because ‘that is the way it has always been done’. Evidence-based practice is favourable, locating and appraising the available literature associated with alternative treatments to enhance practitioner knowledge, but to also ensure they are informing their clients about all options for their pets. The extraction of teeth is a common procedure performed in veterinary practice, and there are numerous indications for this intervention, however there are alternative ways to treat diseased teeth to salvage them, such as endodontic therapies. This article aims to outline the basic anatomy and physiology pertinent to the jaws and oral cavity before exploring the rationale and process of tooth extraction, including contraindications and some disadvantages. Throughout the discussion there will be consideration of alternative treatments.

Gioso et al (2005) explained that the head of an animal is the most specialised part of the body as it houses the brain and sensory organs, all of which enable the animal to see, hear, smell, eat and taste, thus emphasising its importance. The development of skull, facial and orodental structures is complex, and begins in utero. Gracis (2013) outlined how each embryonic tissue contributes to the development of these structures, with the skull bones, alveolar bone, periodontal ligament (PDL) fibres, cementum, dentine and pulp all originating from the ectomesencyhme, a derivative of the mesoderm. The maxillae and mandibles arise from the first branchial arches.

The jaws are the teeth-bearing bony structures which surround the oral cavity proper (Gracis, 2013), and the upper jaw is called the maxilla. The part of the maxilla that accommodates the majority of the upper teeth articulates with the incisive bone, nasal bone, vomer bone, temporal bone, lacrimal bone, zygomatic bones and the contralateral maxillary bones. The incisive bone houses the upper incisors, and the hard palate comprises the maxilla, palatine and incisive bones, forming the roof of the mouth; the bony separation between the oral and nasal cavities (Figures 1 and 2).

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