absorbed in the body. Examples of absorbable sutures
are the natural (plain and chromic) gut and synthetic
A variety of materials are used to make
nonabsorbable sutures. Some of these are silk, cotton,
nylon, polyester, and corrosion-resistant steel wire.
The most common suture material used in oral surgery
is made of silk.
All of these suture materials are available in
different diameters. The smaller the number, the larger
the diameter of the suture material. The 3-0 size is
commonly used in periodontal surgery. The most
commonly used suture material for oral mucosa is the
4-0 silk. To suture facial lacerations, the 5-0 suture
size is commonly used.
WOUND CLOSURE.When assisting with
wound closures, grasp the suture needle with the
needle holder approximately one third of the way
between the eye of the needle and the needle point, and
pass it to the dentist. When the needle is inserted into
the tissue, the dentist may require you to hold the tissue
firmly with tissue forceps.
As each suture is tied, the dentist may have you cut
the suture above the knot with surgical scissors, being
careful not to cut it too short, since this may cause the
suture to come untied.
Scissors are used in dental surgery to cut tissues
and sutures. The scissors used to trim excess or
irregular soft tissues have one serrated blade to
eliminate slippage. Those with smooth blades are
normally used for cutting sutures or other fabric
materials. Figure 5-9 illustrates the Dean surgical
scissors. Many types of surgical scissors are
commonly used such as the Kelly curved or sharp,
Mayo curved or straight, and the Iris curved or straight.
MISCELLANEOUS SURGERY FORCEPS
With the exception of the rongeur forceps, which
are used to cut bone, most forceps are grasping-type
Figure 5-9.Dean surgical scissors.
instruments. The forceps that secure patient towels
and drapes, hold suture needles, control hemorrhage,
and grasp oral soft tissues are commonly used in most
dental surgeries. We will consider them a
miscellaneous group for our purposes.
Towel-clamp forceps (fig. 5-10) are used to
maintain surgical towels and drapes in the correct
position during an operation. The working ends may
have either sharp points or blunt flat tips that overlap in
the closed position.
Needle-holder forceps hold needles during
suturing procedures. The typical needle holder has two
short, rather blunt, serrated beaks with a distinct
groove in each beak (fig. 5-11). The grooves provide
space for the placement and retention of the needle. At
the end of the handles, there is a graduated, notched-
locking device that lets the dentist secure the suture
needle in the suturing position as if the needle were an
extension of the needle holder.
Figure 5-10.Small and large towel-clamp forceps.
Figure 5-11.Needle-holder forceps.