The New Zealand Dental Services
Most of the extractions were carried out under local anaesthesia, except such cases as acute alveolar abscesses and similar conditions where this type of anaesthesia was contra-indicated. In cases of multiple extractions it was customary to admit the patient to the camp medical hospital for a day after operation for observation, nursing and special feeding. In other cases the co-operation of the Regimental Medical Officer and the unit quartermaster was sought to get special diet and easy duty. Occasionally the patient was either sent home on sick leave or to a field ambulance, military hospital or public hospital, but this only occurred if there were no facilities for hospitalisation in the camp. Where general anaesthesia was indicated, and this was limited to cases involving six or more teeth except in special circumstances, most of the main dental hospitals had machines for the administration of nitrous oxide and oxygen.page 110
Where no machine was available the services of the medical officer were available to administer other anaesthetics. Intravenous evipan was a popular choice.
Although cases were admitted to the camp hospital, the dental officer continued to be responsible for them except for rations, discipline and nursing.
The services of dental officers with experience in oral surgery were available at the main mobilisation camps and to them could be referred cases of major oral surgery from sections where there were not the same facilities for diagnosis, hospitalisation and postoperative treatment. It must not be thought that they alone did all the oral surgery in their districts. The dividing line between the general practitioner and the specialist was no more clearly defined in the Army than it was in civilian life. The individual officer's judgment was the deciding factor as to whether the specialist was to be used or not. All dental officers were supplied with the necessary armamentarium for any class of lesion they might meet, but all of them did not have X-ray or hospital facilities, which were usually essential for successful oral surgery.