This study investigated the effect of intraoral-prostheses on swallowing function in 13 postsurgical oral and oropharyngeal cancer patients. Three subjects had resections of the soft palate with no involvement of the tongue. Ten subjects had resections of the posterior oral cavity or oropharynx including resection of the oral tongue, tongue base, soft palate, tonsil, and/or mandible. Patients received either an obturator only, a maxillary reshaping/lowering prosthesis, or an obturator combined with a maxillary reshaping/lowering prosthesis. Swallowing was examined with and without the prosthesis 3 months posthealing using videofluoroscopy; results are presented in the form of case reports. The majority of patients had either unchanged swallowing function or mixed results (i.e., improvement for some but not all bolus consistencies) when using an intraoral prosthesis. The extent of surgical resection, type of reconstruction, and postoperative radiotherapy had an impact on the type of prosthesis constructed and the patient's ultimate swallowing ability. Despite the swallowing dysfunction demonstrated by some of the patients, all were able to maintain oral intake either with or without the prosthesis in place.
Key Words: intraoral prostheses, maxillary reshaping prostheses, obturators, oropharyngeal swallow, postsurgical
Submitted on August 31, 1995
Accepted on April 18, 1996