What Are Maxillofacial Prosthetics and When Do You Need Them?

Orofacial defects, or defects of the head and neck region, may be present at birth (congenital) or developed due to trauma, surgical intervention, or disease (acquired)—these range from minor cosmetic defects to major functional disabilities affecting normal activities such as swallowing or breathing. 

Maxillofacial prosthetics, also known as maxillofacial prosthodontics, is a subspecialty of dentistry that involves rehabilitating patients with defects or disabilities of the neck and head region. This subspecialty combines parts of various disciplines, including oral surgery, radiation oncology, anaplastology, plastic surgery, and neurology, to provide optimal treatment and improve the quality of life for the patient. 

Maxillofacial Prosthetics vs Prostheses

While maxillofacial prosthetics is the science and art of providing functional and cosmetic reconstruction in the defective or missing areas of the head or neck, maxillofacial prostheses refer to the non-living substitutes used in these reconstructions to replace or treat the affected structures. These are most commonly made up of acrylic resins and silicone. For example, following a cancer ablation surgery in an individual with a head and neck cancer, maxillofacial prostheses may play a vital role in rehabilitating chewing or swallowing in the patient. 

Intraoral vs Extraoral Defects

Defects of the head and neck region are divided into two main categories, namely:

Intraoral Defects: 

These affect the tongue, hard palate, soft palate, or jawbone. Among the most common intraoral defects is cleft palate, which may be congenital or acquired due to an injury or surgical removal of a tumor.

Extraoral Defects: 

These affect the ear (auricular defects), nose (nasal defects), eyes (ocular defects) and other areas of the head (orbital/hemifacial defects) as well as the neck.

When Are Maxillofacial Prostheses Needed?

Maxillofacial prostheses are used during oral surgery Essex, to reconstruct or replace injured, malformed, or missing orofacial parts caused by trauma, congenital disabilities, pathological conditions, or surgical interventions in head and neck cancers. Such defects can have severe implications on the patient’s psychosocial behavior, for they may cause hindrance in normal functions and make usual everyday activities challenging. Maxillofacial prosthetics can help patients with the following cases:


Industrial and severe traffic accidents and residential mishaps are among the most common causes of injuries resulting in defects such as functional issues or the disfiguration of the neck and head region. Wounds caused by gunshots in case of a suicide attempt or assail can also result in severe disfiguration affecting the appearance as well as the functionality of the structures injured. Maxillofacial prostheses can overcome facial deformity by restoring the nose, eyes, or other facial parts. 

Neoplasm (Cancer):

Surgical intervention for the removal of cancer can include the partial or complete removal of tissue or bone. Although eradicating tumors is the first goal of cancer therapy, preservation of function and form is also of utmost importance. Suppose a structure performing a vital role, such as mastication, is removed. In that case, it must be replaced in such a way that the aesthetic appearance and function (swallowing, speech etc.) are restored, and the patient’s quality of life is retained. 

Patients receiving chemoradiation therapy are at a high risk of developing dental infections and diseases as well as sustaining damage on the adjacent tissues at risk. These complications are prevented using various maxillofacial prostheses, including fluoride trays and positioning and shielding stents.

Congenital disabilities: 

Congenital disabilities such as cleft lip, cleft palate and facial cleft require restoration via maxillofacial prostheses such as obturators. The role of a maxillofacial prosthodontist cannot be overstated in the surgical closure of the openings between the oral and nasal cavities. Supporting structures, such as obturators, cover the space between the mouth and sinus, prevent food and drinks from entering the opening, reconstruct the soft palate and palatal contours and improve speech in the patient. 

Maxillofacial Prosthetics Changing Lives:

It goes without saying that the constant advancements in maxillofacial prosthetics have changed countless lives, undoubtedly, for the better. Many severe trauma survivors left with orofacial injuries or individuals born with such defects as cleft lip can have normal functions restored with improvements in the cosmetic appearance of their head or neck area, everything ultimately leading to rehabilitation of the patient and a better quality of life.

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