Oral cancer patients undergo life-altering curative treatment that consists of surgery or a combination of surgery and radiotherapy. This can severely alter the functional anatomy of the oral cavity and create a challenging environment for successful oral rehabilitation. A multidisciplinary team approach is required to rehabilitate these patients successfully. It is essential to have assessment by an oral rehabilitation specialist before treatment, especially where primary rehabilitation interventions are being considered. Following cancer treatment, patients may suffer from a range of difficulties, from dento-facial appearance, to chewing, speech and swallowing. This dysfunction often leads to psychosocial problems, such as reduced self esteem, social contact and quality of life. Conventional prosthodontics has a role to play in the management of these patients but osseointegrated implants (OII), can be required to overcome the anatomical and physiological barriers. OII can be used in an environment where there is poor soft tissue function or little bone support, and where there is a dry mouth.
This paper introduces readers to the prosthodontic pathway taken by some oral cancer patients. It provides an overview of current oral rehabilitation techniques that supplement the supportive dental care provided by general dental practitioners and their team after cancer treatment.