Maxillofacial Prosthetics: Regaining Confidence and Improving the Patient’s Quality of Life
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Maxillofacial abnormalities are described as congenital structural deformities, malformations or other abnormalities of the maxilla (upper jaw bones), face or facial bones. In most cases, abnormal development of facial organs and mouth cavity can affect the facial functions, shape of the face and personal appearance which can considerably cause psychological and emotional problems such as lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem and poor quality of life. As the patients’ quality of life is significantly altered, social integration becomes difficult and the expectation to return to “normal life” collapses.
Get to Know “Maxillofacial Prosthodontics”
“Maxillofacial Prosthodontics” or maxillofacial prosthetics is a particular branch of dentistry that treats congenital and acquired defects (e.g. traumatic injuries and cancers) of the head and neck regions. It involves rehabilitation, managing, replacement and restoration of lost or missing structures and functions of maxillofacial defects or disabilities. The objectives of maxillofacial prosthetics include the restoration of esthetics or cosmetic appearance and conserving maxillofacial functions as well as psychological therapy. Maxillofacial prosthetics collaboratively integrates multiple disciplines including prosthetic dentistry (prosthodontics), head and neck oncology, plastic surgery and other related disciplines.
Prostheses, with wide range of materials, are made to replace damaged teeth, lost bone, or soft tissue. Maxillofacial prosthetics might be highly indicated in these following conditions:
- Congenital abnormalities such as birth defects, anotia (external baby’s ear is missing completely at birth), cleft lip and cleft palate.
- Lost or damaged maxillofacial organs after traumatic injuries.
- Lost or damaged maxillofacial organs caused by cancers
To classify maxillofacial prostheses based on the prosthetic positioning, there are 2 main types:
- Intraoral prostheses such as artificial soft and hard palates, assistive speech devices, oral exerciser and devices that facilitate swallowing functions.
- Extraoral prostheses such as orbital implants and ocular, nose, ear and skull prostheses.
Maxillofacial prosthesis may also cover prosthetic fingers and hands (arm and leg prostheses are not included).
The Importance of Maxillofacial Prosthetics
Since the main purpose of intraoral prosthetics is to restore functions (e.g. speech, pronouncement, swallowing and chewing) and appearance in patients with oral cavity defects, the material of prostheses is mainly made from “acrylic” due to its satisfactory flexibility and durability. The process involves several complex steps starting from dental impression, (a negative imprint of teeth and soft tissues in and outside the mouth), implant planning and surgical and prosthetic procedures. In comparison with extraoral prostheses, invention processes of intraoral prostheses are considerably more sophisticated. Each prosthesis averagely requires a month to be made.
An extraoral prosthesis acts like a cosmetic bandage that camouflages surgical defects. With regard to esthetic concerns, the most important feature of prostheses is the natural appearance (size, shape and color) that helps enhancing the patient’s confidence. Material used is mostly “silicone” with high degree of flexibility and cosmetic advantages which the satisfaction of individual patient plays a major role. The assembly process, compared to intraoral ones, takes less time with average 2-4 weeks.
Treatment steps of maxillofacial prosthetics
- A dental impression to imprint of the missing part on the face or in the mouth cavity.
- Forming a positive reproduction (cast or model) made by placing an appropriate material in a stock or custom dental impression tray. In some cases, size measurement might be necessary.
- Assembly process made by specialized maxillofacial prosthodontist to create prostheses with natural appearance and proper size for individual patient.
- Prosthetic positioning and placement
Benefits of maxillofacial prosthetics
- Restoring organ structure and functions
- Cosmetic advantages
- Regaining self-confidence
- Improvement of patient’s quality of life
After prosthetic surgery, maintaining good hygienic care of prostheses and following the instructions recommended by the dentists are essentially crucial in order to prolong the lifespan of prosthesis. Prosthetic dislocation might occasionally happen, regular follow-up is highly advised.
Bangkok Hospital Dental Center offers the ultimate level of comprehensive dental care provided by our multidisciplinary dentistry which utilizes a team approach of general dentists and specialized dentists including maxillofacial prosthodontists who are experienced in maxillofacial prosthetics. Supported by cutting-edge prosthetic technology, our prosthetic services holistically cover all processes from treatment planning, prosthetic assembling, surgical procedures and prosthetic maintenance. Our commitment is not only to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes, but we have also aimed to fulfill patient’s satisfaction resulting in regaining of self-confidence and improved quality of life.