Maxillofacial prosthodontics is a specialization in the field of prosthodontics. It involves the use of prosthetics to treat defects in the face and neck region. Maxillofacial prosthodontists treat patients who have acquired congenital defects of the head and neck (maxillofacial) region due to cancer, surgery, trauma, and/or birth defects. Prosthodontists develop a treatment plan that will take care of the aesthetics and the functional aspects of your facial region.
The treatment of a patient is multidisciplinary, involving oral and maxillofacial surgeons, plastic surgeons, head and neck surgeons, ENT doctors, oncologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and other healthcare professionals.
Maxillary obturators, speech-aid prosthesis (formerly called as Pharyngeal/soft palate obturators) and mandibular-resection prostheses are the most common prostheses planned and fabricated by maxillofacial prosthodontists. Other types of prostheses include artificial eyes, nose and other facial prostheses fabricated in conjunction with an anaplastologist.
Due to their extensive training in prosthetic reconstruction, breadth of knowledge and capability of handling most types of complex cases, maxillofacial prosthodontists have been referred to as ‘bullet-proof’ dentists which may be a bit of an exaggeration, but a Maxillofacial Prosthodontist is trained and capable of handling the most complex cases to effectively restore smiles for both appearance and the best comfort available for the patient. Prosthodontists utilize their artistic and technical abilities to apply prosthetic solutions to benefit a patient’s natural appearance and oral function.
Oral cancer prosthetics
As a result of cancer and its treatment oral cancer patients often suffer from cosmetic and functional problems. Their speech, swallowing, and chewing are affected. Prosthetics for oral cancer patients helps improve the quality of their lives. Treatment with oral cancer prosthetics is a part of a larger treatment plan that is conservative and restorative in nature. Oral cancer prosthetic treatment is a multi-disciplinary affair and requires the skills of not only the prosthodontist but maxillofacial surgeons and other specialists. Together as a team often including an oncologist / ENT surgeon, they plan thoroughly the steps from throughout the surgery, radiotherapy and healing phase. The prosthodontist often accompanies the patient in achieving maximal comfort through all steps of treatment and recovery.
A cleft palate is a congenital deformity in which the two plates that form the roof of the mouth are not completely joined. It can be hereditary. A cleft palate causes problems in speech, breathing, eating, facial development, and the growth of teeth. A cleft palate results in an incomplete separation between the nasal and oral cavity. Reconstructive surgery can fix a cleft palate. The appropriate time for surgery will be decided by the doctors involved. If the surgery is done at a young age, then more surgeries may be required by the time permanent teeth appear. If it is delayed, then extensive speech therapy may be needed. A prosthodontist can assist in early stages of life with a feeding prosthesis and later on with other restorative appliances. Sometimes implants are involved.
Congenital-developmental mouth defects
Congenital and developmental birth defects of the mouth include cleft lips, cleft palate, hypodontia or missing teeth, hypodontia or extra teeth, anomalies in the tooth structure, enamel defects, dentin defects, etc.
Patients with Ectodermal Dysplasia are typically seen by a prosthodontist over all the years of tooth development and later in adult stages to reconstruct the missing teeth.
Dr. Klostermyer has great experience with even small children and dentures, as when children join Kindergarten or pre-school they become aware about their lack of teeth, which is not only an esthetic concern but a functional problem as well. Advanced Dentistry of Richmond welcomes patients with Ectodermal Dysplasia. We have good experience with the Ectodermal Dysplasia Foundation financially assisting patients with their restorative work.
TMJ / occlusal guards
TMJ (tempero-mandibular joint) patients experience jaw pain, headaches, neck aches, ear aches and teeth sensitivity issues often in the morning hours but some patients suffer all day long. They sometimes have difficulties in closing and opening their mouth. TMD (tempero-mandibular joint disorder) is a condition that impacts the lives of millions. The good news is there are several TMD treatment options available.
At Advanced Dentistry of Richmond, we are well familiar with the various TMD treatments. Each one starts with a visit to our office. During the visit, Dr. Klostermyer will conduct a thorough examination to determine the cause of your TMD. Once she’s identified its origin, she’ll recommend a TMD treatment. In some instances, an occlusal orthotic TMD prostheses will alleviate the problem. The mouth guard is designed to keep a person’s jaw muscles relaxed and prevent teeth grinding. The mouth guards are also sometimes combined with other TMD treatments. The list of treatments sometimes paired with occlusal orthotic TMD prostheses use includes engaging in physical therapy, adopting a mechanical soft or pureed diet and using medications. The medications involved tend to be prescription muscle relaxants and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs.
In severe cases of TMD, patients may opt to choose additional treatments. The list of additional treatments includes, but is not limited to, TENS therapy, acupuncture, trigger point injections, ultrasound therapy and surgery. The type of surgery needed will depend on the individual’s unique situation. However, two of the more commonly used surgeries are open joint and arthroscopy. They are often used when tumors and major disk problems are involved. Both are serious undertakings. As such, they are typically used as a last resort.
For more information about these TMD treatments and TMD in general, please contact us at Advanced Dentistry of Richmond. Our prosthodontics office is open year-round, by appointment only as we allow each patient the time necessary for a non-rushed appointment. We may be reached during normal business hours by calling (804) 282-7260.
Take Control of Your Oral Health
12/26/2015 by Dr. Ursula Klostermyer