oral anatomy, Thiel-embalming, local anesthesia, dental education.
Objective: We aimed to determine whether Thiel-embalmed cadavers would provide a useful anatomy teaching tool for topics that cannot be approached using formalin-fixed cadavers such as oral cavity examination and maxillary anesthesia.
Methods: The suitability of Thiel–embalmed bodies to perform oral examination was assessed by asking first year dentistry students to identify oral structures on a classmate and on a Thiel-embalmed body. The ease of location was compared in both settings and their quality was assessed on the cadavers. The suitability of Thiel-embalmed cadavers to teach maxillary anesthesia was assessed by performing mock injections at 5 adjacent sites daily for five consecutive days and inspection of the gingival surface by experienced anatomists and dentists.
Results: Most oral structures were more difficult to locate on cadavers. The texture and appearance of the features in the cadavers were found to be neither unrealistic nor realistic. The relative inexperience of the participants, the accumulation of fixative in the oral cavity and discoloration were mentioned as potential confounding factors. Visual analysis of images obtained following repeated injections revealed no deterioration of the tissue. Importantly, the puncture marks appeared to reduce over time, suggesting that the gingival tissue maintains some elasticity following Thiel fixation.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that Thiel-embalmed cadavers are a useful tool to provide students more time to localize and study aspects of the oral cavity. Likewise, the recoiling capacity of gingival tissue suggests that Thiel-embalmed cadavers may provide an ideal tool for teaching injection technique of local anesthetics.