Information About Your Obturator

Maxillectomy/Palatectomy Prostheses-Obturators

A maxillectomy/ palatectomy is a surgical procedure removing all or part of the hard or soft palate. The resulting defect make swallowing, speaking, chewing, and the use of regular denture appliances almost impossible.

A maxillectomy/ palatectomy prosthesis or "obturator" restores the surgical defect and aids in the function of speaking, chewing, or swallowing. It fills the void left by the surgery and artificially replaces lost tissues and teeth.

Prosthodontic treatment involves:

  • Patient counseling and instruction
  • Physical therapy (oral - physical)
  • Dietary counseling
  • Hygiene maintenance and instruction
  • Fabrication of prosthodontic appliances

Fabrication of obturators is usually accomplished in three phases:
  1. Immediate
    A prosthesis may be placed at the time of surgery

  2. Transitional
    This phase is started 10-14 days after surgery when surgical dressings or immediate prosthesis are removed. The transitional prosthesis is placed and modified until healing is complete. This phase may extend from 2-24 months.

  3. Definitive
    This phase begins when healing is complete and involves fabrication of prosthesis intended for long term use. Definitive treatment may involve fixed prosthesis (crowns) and / or removable prosthesis.
Any phase of treatment may be altered dependant on the nature of the disease and its staging, radiation, chemotherapy, surgical complications, and the morbidity of the disease.

These documents and links are intended to inform you of issues, sequelae, and treatment options related to various diagnoses and maxillofacial prosthodontic treatments that may interest you. The information is not intended to suggest or dictate treatment or outcomes, but may serve to begin a discussion with your physician and prosthodontist.