Maxillofacial prosthodontics is a specialty of dentistry which deals with the rehabilitation of patients with acquired and congenital defects of the head and neck region. These range from minor to major functional disabilities combined with cosmetic disfigurement.
The development of titanium dental implants by Professor P.I. Brånemark led to the refinement of bone-anchored prostheses for the face and adjacent structures. This technology has been under study at selected sites in the United States for over 20 years, and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for general use. This gives new hope for patients in need of these prostheses and has revolutionized the field.
The Center for Maxillofacial Prosthodontics is an example of how the College strives to expand its availability of services to patients of North Texas.
Rehabilitation of patients with head and neck disabilities is difficult and requires close interactions among several health science disciplines. The Maxillofacial Prosthodontist is the primary person involved in many facets of patient care, and is therefore the individual who is in the best position to coordinate the efforts required in this complex rehabilitative process. Members of the team include oral and maxillofacial surgeons, plastic surgeons, radiologists, oncologists, head and neck surgeons, neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, periodontists, orthodontists, social workers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, among others. The team at Baylor College of Dentistry is one of several craniofacial teams in the Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex that can bring together the needed specialists to evaluate and treat these patients.
The fundamental objective of this Center is to provide prosthodontic reconstruction for those patients with orofacial defects resulting from birth defects, trauma, or following treatment for head and neck cancers. Defects of this type can lead to altered function and an inability to participate in normal activities, which has a negative impact on the patient's psychosocial behavior. The Center also addresses the need for a focal point for the education of medical, dental, and auxiliary dental health personnel. Clinical research is carried out as part of patient care and follow-up. Treatment procedures are linked to the overall teaching and research efforts of the College.
Craniofacial deformities such as cleft lip, cleft palate, are managed by specialized teams of doctors and support personnel. The role of the maxillofacial prosthodontist is critically important in supporting the surgical care in such patients when closures of the openings between the nasal and oral cavities are achieved, or providing supporting structures for swallowing, chewing, and speech.
Injuries resulting from motor vehicle, industrial and residential accidents, and gunshot wounds from assaults and/or suicide attempts account for a high incidence of residual orofacial defects which can result in disfigurement or compromise of function. These kinds of cases can often be assisted by this Center.
There are approximately 50,000 new cases of head and neck cancer diagnosed each year in the United States. About 700 of these cases occur in North Texas per year. The main objective in the management of malignant disease is cure, but there are important secondary goals to be considered as well. Specifically, an attempt is made to preserve form and function and retain an acceptable quality of life for the patient. This includes the use of dental osseointegrated implants and appropriate dental restorations. In the mouth, the therapeutic strategy centers on retention and restoration of teeth, and restoration of the ability to chew and swallow. Facial disfigurement can be overcome by restoration of the eyes, ears, noses, or other facial structures, occasionally retained by cranial implants.