The needle used in closing mucosal incisions is usually a small half-circle or three eighths-circle-suture needle. It is curved to allow the needle to pass through a limited space, where a straight needle could not reach. Suture needles come in a large variety of shapes, from very small to very large (Fig. 6-24, A). The tips of suture needles are either tapered, such as a sewing needle, or they have triangular tips that allow them to be cutting needles (Fig. 6- 24, B). A cutting needle will pass through mucoperiosteum more easily than the tapered needle. The cutting portion of the needle extends about one third the length of the needle, arid the remaining portion of the needle is round. The suture can be threaded through the eye of the needle or can be purchased already swaged on by the manufacturer (Fig. 6-24, C). If the dentist chooses to load his or her own needles for the sake of economy, needles that have eyes like those in typical sewing needles) must be used. If the dentist chooses to use the disposable needles,
then the suture will be swaged onto the needle. Needles that have eyes are larger at the tip and may cause slightly increased tissue injury compared with the swaged on needles.
The curved needle is held approximately two thirds of the distance between the tip and the end of the needle (Fig. 6-25). This allows enough of the. needle to be exposed to pass through the tissue, while allowing the needle holder to grasp the needle in its strong portion to prevent bending of the needle. Techniques for placing sutures are discussed in Chapter 8.