Missing teeth

Missing teeth in a maxillofacial context may result as a consequence of trauma, management of cancer or infection. The replacement of teeth lies firmly in the field of restorative and general dentistry.

The interaction between the surgical specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery and the dental specialty of restorative dentistry (which may form a large part of the work of a general dentist) principally centres around the planning of which teeth can be usefully retained and preserved after treatment of mouth cancer and the provision of implants.

If one is unfortunate enough to lose a tooth or teeth, the timelines can vary substantially. If there is a planned process of atraumatic extraction followed by immediate restoration with a prosthesis or implant, then the process may be immediate with only a week or so of recovery and adapting to the replacement.

On the other hand, if the missing teeth are a manifestation of the treatment of a mouth cancer, final dental rehabilitation may not be safely completed until up to a year after the start of treatment. This reflects the potential risks of dental prosthesis being placed on irradiated mucosa when radiotherapy was part of the treatment.

In summary, the variations in timelines for dental rehabilitation after a range of oral and maxillofacial interventions are so wide that it is best to ask the clinician what applies in any given individual situation.