When cancer, trauma, or a congenital anomaly such as cleft palate creates a defect in the dental, oral, or facial tissues, an appliance is needed to replace those structures. These appliances replace missing bones and tissue, and are often necessary for proper speech and swallowing. If teeth are missing in the affected area, they also replace teeth.
An obturator is an prosthesis made for the upper jaw to close a defect in the palate. Removal of oral and sinus cancers will often result in an opening from the mouth into the sinus or nose. An obturator covers this areas and protects the opening from food and liquid.
A speech appliance is an obturator for the soft palate, the posterior part of the palate.
A speech appliance replaces tissue that is missing from the soft palate. Whether due to a cleft palate, cancer, or trauma, patients whose soft palate is deficient experience problems with speech, and leakage of fluids and foods into the nose while eating. A speech appliance fills in the area of missing tissue to allow proper movement of air and foods.
A speech appliance is an obturator for the soft palate.
When part of the mandible (lower jaw) is removed, it can be reconstructed surgically in many ways, including grafts from the leg and with metal plating. After the surgical phase of reconstruction is complete, the gum and bone tissue can be replaced using either a removable appliance or with dental implants.
Radiation is often a necessary adjunct in the treatment of oral cancer. While its effects can be life saving, it can also damage some of the normal structures of the mouth and have long term consequences. Anyone who is anticipating the need for head and neck radiation treatment MUST have a dental evaluation pre-treatment, and continue to be followed closely after treatment