Home | About us | Editorial board | Ahead of print | Current issue | Archives | Search | Submit article | Instructions | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact us |  Login 
National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery
Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
Users Online: 389

Table of Contents
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 117-120  

Obturator prosthesis for hemimaxillectomy patients

1 Department of Prosthodontics, Faculty of Dental Sciences, KGMU, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Prosthodontics, I.T.S. Dental College, Modinagar, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication7-Sep-2013

Correspondence Address:
Mayank Singh
5/167, Vikasnagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-5950.117814

Rights and Permissions

Rehabilitation of hemimaxillectomy patients can be challenging. The most common problem with prosthetic treatment in such patients is in getting adequate retention, stability, and support. The size and location of the defect usually influences the amount of impairment and difficulty in prosthetic rehabilitation. The obturator prosthesis is commonly used as an effective means for rehabilitating hemimaxillectomy cases. In cases of large maxillary defects, movement of the obturator prosthesis is inevitable and requires a form of indirect retention to limit the rotation of the prosthesis. The goal of prosthodontics is rehabilitation of missing oral and extraoral structures along with restoration of the normal functions of mastication, speech, swallowing, appearance, and so on. Malignancies are common in the oral region, which are treated through surgical intervention. Surgical intervention creates communication between the oral cavity, nasal cavity, and maxillary sinus. In such cases, it is very difficult for the patient to perform various normal functions like mastication, swallowing, speaking, and so on. Prosthodontic rehabilitation with obturator prosthesis restores the missing structures and acts as a barrier between the communication among the various cavities.

Keywords: Hemimaxillectomy, obturator, oroantral communication

How to cite this article:
Singh M, Bhushan A, Kumar N, Chand S. Obturator prosthesis for hemimaxillectomy patients. Natl J Maxillofac Surg 2013;4:117-20

How to cite this URL:
Singh M, Bhushan A, Kumar N, Chand S. Obturator prosthesis for hemimaxillectomy patients. Natl J Maxillofac Surg [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Dec 6];4:117-20. Available from: https://www.njms.in/text.asp?2013/4/1/117/117814

   Introduction Top

The most common of all intraoral defects are in the maxilla, in the form of an opening into the antrum and nasopharynx. Defects in the maxilla may be divided into defects resulting from congenital malformations and acquired defects resulting from surgery for oral neoplasms. The opening produced maybe quite small or it may include any portion of the hard and soft palate, the alveolar ridges, and the floor of the nasal cavity. Postsurgical maxillary defects predispose the patient to hypernasal speech, leakage of fluid into the nasal cavity, and impaired masticator function. [1]

The prosthesis needed to repair the defect is known as a maxillary obturator. An obturator (Latin: obturare, to stop up) is a disc or plate, which closes an opening or defect of the maxilla as a result of a partial or total removal of the maxilla. [1] The goals of prosthetic rehabilitation for total and partial maxillectomy patients include separation of oral and nasal cavities to allow adequate deglutition and articulation, possible support of the orbital contents to prevent enophthalmos and diplopia, support of the soft tissue to restore the midfacial contour, and an acceptable esthetic result. [2] Prosthodontic management of palatal defects has been employed for many years. Ambroise Pare was the first to use artificial means to close a palatal defect as early as the 1500s. The early obturators were used to close congenital rather than acquired defects. Claude Martin described the use of a surgical obturator prosthesis in 1875. Fry described the use of impressions before surgery in 1927, and Steadman described the use of an acrylic resin prosthesis lined with gutta-percha to hold a skin graft within a maxillectomy defect in 1956. [3],[4] The indications for the use of an obturator are:

  • To serve as a temporary prosthesis during the period of surgical correction
  • To restore the esthetic appearance of the patient rapidly for social contact
  • When surgical primary closure is contraindicated
  • When the age of the patient contraindicates surgery
  • When the size and extent of the deformity contraindicates surgery
  • When the local avascular condition of the tissues contraindicates surgery
  • When the patient is susceptible to recurrence of the original lesion which produced the deformity. [5]
Obturators for acquired defects of palate

Almost all acquired palatal defects are precipitated by the resection of neoplasms of the palate and paranasal sinuses. The extent of the resection is dependent on the size, location, and potential behavior of the tumor. [6]

Prosthodontic therapy for patients with acquired surgical defects of the maxilla can be divided into three phases of treatment with each phase having different objectives. [6],[7]

The surgical obturator

It is a base plate appliance which is constructed from the preoperative impression cast and inserted at the timeof resection of the maxilla in the operating room. The surgical obturator provides a matrix on which the surgical packing can be placed. It maintains the packing in the proper relationship, thus ensuring close adaptation of the skin graft. It also reduces oral contamination of the wound during the immediate postsurgical period and may thus reduce the incidence of local infection, and the nasogastric tube maybe removed at an earlier date.

The temporary obturator

The temporary obturator is constructed from the postsurgical impression cast which has an artificial palate and artificial ridge and generally has no teeth. The closed bulb extending into the defect area is hollow. The patient is usually seen every two weeks becau se of the rapid soft tissue changes that occur within the defect during the organization and healing of the wound. The new lining material is placed or changed. It is best to remove the entire old interim lining material because of porosity, leading to bacterial contamination and precipitation of undesirable odors and mucosal irritations. The periodic addition of interim lining material increases the bulk and weight of the obturator and this temporary material may become rough and unhygienic.

The definitive obturator

A definitive obturator is not indicated until the surgical site is healed and dimensionally stable and the patient is prepared physically and emotionally for the restorative care that maybe necessary. Changes associated with healing and remodeling will continue to occur in the border areas of the defect for at least one year. Dimensional changes are primarily related to the peripheral soft tissues rather than to bony support areas. [1],[6],[8]

Approximately six months after surgery, consideration maybe given to the construction of a definitive obturator prosthesis. It is constructed from the postsurgical maxillary cast. This obturator has a metal framework which acts as the palate and supports the teeth and the closed bulb which is hollow. Often the temporary obturator will need to function comfortably for as long as six months. The timing will vary depending on the size of the defect, the progress of healing, the prognosis for control of the tumor, the effectiveness of the present obturator, and the presence or absence of teeth. To reduce and improve adhesion and retention, a hollow obturator bulb is required for cleft palate prostheses and for dentures following maxillectomies. [9]

   Case Report Top

A patient aged 60 years reported to the department of prosthodontics six months after surgery. The chief complaint was an inability to masticate food because of loss of some teeth. The patient gave a history of a deleterious habit of chewing tobacco since 20 years. Maintenance of oral hygiene was very poor. The patient was operated for ameloblastoma after being diagnosed by biopsy. The site of surgery was the maxillary right buccal sulcus area and a part of the hard palate on that side [Figure 1]. A few teeth were also removed on that side. Intraoral examination revealed complete healing of the operated site. The missing teeth were 15, 16, 17, and 18.
Figure 1: Intraoral view showing the site of defect

Click here to view

The treatment plan was fabrication of a definitive obturator.

  • The primary maxillary and mandibular impression were taken with irreversible hydrocolloid material alginate (Zelgan 2002; Dentsply-India, Gurgaon, India) and the cast was poured with dental stone (type III) (Kalstone; Kalabhai Karson, Mumbai, India)
  • The primary maxillary cast was surveyed and undercut areas were blocked
  • Necessary mouth-preparation steps were carried out and the final impression was recorded using light-body addition silicone material (Aquasil LV; Dentsply International, Milford, Delaware, USA)
  • This impression was poured with die stone (type IV) (Kalstone; Kalabhai Karson, Mumbai, India) and the cast was duplicated in refractory material and partial framework of the cast was fabricated with the help of various wax patterns
  • Jaw relation was recorded with modeling wax (No. 2; MDM Corporation, New Delhi, India) and after teeth arrangement, a try-in was done [Figure 2]
    Figure 2: Final try-in of prosthesis

    Click here to view
  • The prosthesis was cured with heat-cured acrylic resin (Trevlon; Dentsply, Gurgaon, India) and properly finished and polished [Figure 3] and [Figure 4]
    Figure 3: Intaglio surface of finished and polished prosthesis

    Click here to view
    Figure 4: Polished surface of finished and polished prosthesi

    Click here to view
  • The prosthesis was finally inserted and the patient was educated regarding oral hygiene and future maintenance of the prosthesis [Figure 5].
    Figure 5: Final insertion of prosthesis

    Click here to view

   Discussion Top

A definitive obturator is not indicated until the surgical site is healed and dimensionally stable and the patient is prepared physically and emotionally for the restorative care that maybe necessary. The obturator maybe displaced superiorly with the stress of mastication and will tend to drop without occlusal contact. The degree of movement will vary with the number and position of teeth, the size and configuration of the defect, the amount and contour of the remaining palatal area, height of the residual alveolar ridge, the size, contour, and lining mucosa of the defect, and the availability of undercuts. Lack of retention, stability, and support are common problems of treatment for patients who have had a maxillectomy.

The height and contour of the residual alveolar ridge and the depth of the sulcus are important in both the edentulous and the dentulous patient. A large, broad ridge or a ridge with a square or ovoid shape usually provide better retention, stability, and support than the small, narrow ridge with a tapering contour. The teeth are the greatest asset for providing retention of the obturator prosthesis. If sound natural teeth remain, the bracing components of the prosthesis framework can be used to minimize movement in all three directions. The number, position, and periodontal status of the remaining teeth are the most critical factors in evaluating the amount of stress that the remaining teeth maybe able to absorb.

Obturator abutments adjacent to distal extension maxillary resection sites are subject to excessive rotational forces. Fixed splinting of some or all of the remaining teeth is indicated to provide dissipation of the stresses directed toward primary abutment teeth. When the remaining teeth are located unilaterally, the intracoronal retainer might provide some benefit in minimizing the amount of vertical movement of prostheses within the defect. Moreover, if the defect is small and the remaining teeth stable, intracoronal retainers might be considered. If the defect is large and some or all of the remaining teeth are weak, extracoronal retainers should be used. If the remaining teeth are not parallel with the walls of the defect, and if the palatal surfaces of the teeth are not adequate, guiding planes are provided to resist vertical displacement of the obturator and disengagement of the retentive clasp arms. [6]

The basic principles of the design of removable partial dentures should be reviewed when designing the framework for an obturator. Major connectors should be rigid, occlusal rests should direct occlusal forces along the long axis of the teeth, guide planes should be designed to facilitate stability and bracing, retention should be within the physiological limits of the periodontal ligament, and maximum support should be gained from the residual soft tissues.

A lateral scar band results after surgical resection at about the level of the mucobuccal fold. Because of its lack of bone support, the lateral scar band also tends to stretch with continued use. This stretching may necessitate sequential additions to the prosthesis which maybe limited by cosmetic requirements and size and weight of the prosthesis. The height of the lateral wall of defect can be utilized for indirect retention. A high lateral wall of an obturator will undergo less vertical displacement with a given defect wall flexure than will a shorter prosthesis lateral wall.

The most important aspect of stability is occlusion. Maximal distribution of the occlusal force in centric and eccentric jaw positions is imperative to minimize the movement of the prosthesis and the resultant forces on individual structures. The stress created by lateral forces is minimized by the correct selection of an occlusal scheme, elimination of premature occlusal contacts, and wide distribution of stabilizing components. [9],[10] Acrylic resin teeth with a reduced occlusal contact area are indicated. Altering the cusp angle of posterior teeth influences the stability of the prosthesis placed on an edentulous resected maxilla. It maybe necessary to accept an occlusion that is not bilaterally balanced in eccentric occluding positions for an edentulous maxilla or mandible. In edentulous patients, nonanatomic posterior teeth are preferred. The teeth are set in centric relation and adjusted to eliminate lateral deflective occlusal contact.

Dimensional changes in tissue continue to occur for at least a year secondary to scar contracture and further organization of the wound. The prosthesis is rebased to compensate for these changes. Changes in the tissues supporting a maxillofacial prosthesis maybe more rapid than in those supporting a more conventional prosthesis. Therefore, the occlusion and base adaptation must be re-evaluated frequently and corrected by selective grinding of the occlusion or rebasing of the prosthesis. [11],[12]

Though it is difficult to improve the quality of life for hemimaxillectomy patients compared with patients with conventional prostheses, this can be achieved with skill, knowledge, and experience of specialists. The problem experienced by hemimaxillectomy patients are reduced if a team approach is adopted and specialists are careful to apply skill and experience at all stages and keep the patient under regular review.

   References Top

1.Chalian VA, Drane JB, Standish SM. Maxillofacial prosthetics. Multidisciplinary practice. Baltimore: The Williams and Wilkins Co.; 1971. p. 133-48.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Wang RR. Sectional prosthesis for total maxillectomy patients: A clinical report. J Prosthet Dent 1979;78:241-4.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Desjardins RP. Obturator prosthesis design for acquired maxillary defects. J Prosthet Dent 1978;39:424-35.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Huryn JM, Piro JD. The maxillary immediate surgical obturator prosthesis. J Prosthet Dent 1989;61:343-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Nidiffer TJ, Shipmon TH. The hollow bulb obturator for acquired palatal openings. J Prosthet Dent 1957;7:126.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Beumer III, Curtis TA, Firtell DN. Maxillofacial rehabilitation. Prosthodontic and surgical considerations. St Louis, Toronto, London: The CV. Mosby Co.; 1979. p. 188-243.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Wiens JP. Acquired maxillofacial defects from motor vehicle accidents: Statistics and prosthodontic considerations. J Prosthet Dent 1990;63:172-81.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Zarb GA. The maxillary resection and its prosthetic replacement. J Prosthet Dent 1967;18:265.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Buckner H. Construction of a denture with hollow obturator, lid, and soft acrylic lining. J Prosthet Dent 1974;31:95-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Armany MA. Basic principles of obturator design for partially edentulous patients. Part I: Classification. J Prosthet Dent 1978;40:554-7.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Armany MA. Basic principles of obturator design for partially edentulous patients. Part II: Design principles. J Prosthet Dent 1978;40:656-62.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Academy of denture prosthetics principles, concepts, and practices in prosthodontics. J Prosthet Dent 1989;61:88-109.  Back to cited text no. 12


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5]

This article has been cited by
1 Microbial evaluation of heat cured silicone versus heat cured acrylic resin in maxillary obturator
Mohamed Amr Elkhashab, Marwa Hassan Mostafa, Ali Abdulghani AlSourori
Bulletin of the National Research Centre. 2022; 46(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Hollow denture-a solution to post covid total maxillectomy patients: A case report
Anu Raveendran, Aswathi Raghuthaman, Prema
IP Annals of Prosthodontics and Restorative Dentistry. 2022; 8(2): 104
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Prosthetic management of acquired dentate maxillectomy defects: A clinical case series
Vineet Sharma, Jyoti Paliwal, Balwant Singh Gurjar, Kamal Kumar Meena
Acta Marisiensis - Seria Medica. 2022; 68(2): 72
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Effect of progressive tissue contracture on functionality of obturator prosthesis: A 3-year follow-up
Arvind Tripathi, Ashutosh Gupta, Praveen Rai, Ravi Dwivedi
Asian Journal of Oral Health and Allied Sciences. 2022; 12: 12
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Reabilitação Oral com Prótese Obturadora em Comunicação Buconasal após Ocorrência de Carcinoma de Células Escamosas: Relato de Caso
Maria Eliza da Consolação Soares, Ana Luiza Ventura Falci, Syrlan Fernandes de Freitas, Ana Terezinha Marques Mesquita, Rodrigo Galo
Revista Brasileira de Cancerologia. 2022; 68(2)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 Maxillary Defect Rehabilitation Using a Hollow Bulb Obturator
Parthasarathy N, Anusha KS, Madhan Kumar S, Shanmuganathan Natarajan
Cureus. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 Development and virtual validation of a novel digital workflow to rehabilitate palatal defects by using smartphone-integrated stereophotogrammetry (SPINS)
Taseef Hasan Farook,Nafij Bin Jamayet,Jawaad Ahmed Asif,Abdul Sattar Din,Muhammad Nasiruddin Mahyuddin,Mohammad Khursheed Alam
Scientific Reports. 2021; 11(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
8 Detachable Lip and Cheek Plumper for Rehabilitation of Facial Disfigurement
Nada Fathalla Abdelbagi,Ibrahim Ahmed Ismail,Fadia Awadalkreem,Mohammed Nasser Alhajj,Konstantinos Michalakis
Case Reports in Dentistry. 2021; 2021: 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
9 Oral Health-Related Quality of Life (OHRQoL) in Patients with Definitive Maxillary Obturator Prostheses: A Prospective Study
S. Parithimar Kalaignan,Syed Ershad Ahmed
Journal of Advanced Oral Research. 2021; 12(1): 66
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
10 Psammoma Bodies in a Large Myoepithelioma
Marcela Pessoa de Melo,Diego Filipe Bezerra Silva,Rodrigo Alves Ribeiro,Tony Santos Peixoto,Daliana Queiroga de Castro Gomes,Pollianna Muniz Alves,Cassiano Francisco Weege Nonaka,Bárbara Vanessa de Brito Monteiro
Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. 2020; 31(4): e326
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
11 A systematic approach to rehabilitation for hemimaxillectomy patient
Rizwana Mallick,Shabina Sachdeva,Eram Perwez,Vishal Goyal,Vanshika Jain
Journal of the International Clinical Dental Research Organization. 2020; 12(1): 72
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
12 An innovative sectional silicone obturator in a patient with partial maxillectomy: A Case report
ThirumurthyV Ramasamy,Jagadish Chandra
The Journal of Indian Prosthodontic Society. 2020; 20(1): 115
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
13 Early use of partial acrylic denture obturator in the postoperative treatment of bone defects after marsupialisation of large jaw cysts
Marija Jovanovic,Simona Stojanovic,Kosta Todorovic,Radmila Obradovic,Marko Igic,Branislava Stojkovic,Nikola Gligorijevic,Milan Spasic,Goran Jovanovic
Acta stomatologica Naissi. 2019; 35(80): 1970
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
14 Quality of life and problems associated with obturators of patients with maxillectomies
Marwa Mohammed Ali,Nadia Khalifa,Mohammed Nasser Alhajj
Head & Face Medicine. 2018; 14(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
15 Polymorphous adenocarcinoma of the salivary glands: reappraisal and update
Vincent Vander Poorten,Asterios Triantafyllou,Alena Skálová,Göran Stenman,Justin A. Bishop,Esther Hauben,Jennifer L. Hunt,Henrik Hellquist,Simon Feys,Remco De Bree,Antti A. Mäkitie,Miquel Quer,Primož Strojan,Orlando Guntinas-Lichius,Alessandra Rinaldo,Alfio Ferlito
European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology. 2018;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
16 Three-Dimensional Printing
Michael Bartellas,Jamie Tibbo,Doug Angel,Arthur Rideout,Joshua Gillis
Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. 2017; : 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
17 An Alternative Prosthetic Approach for Rehabilitation of Two Edentulous Maxillectomy Patients: Clinical Report
Murat Yenisey,Safak Külünk,Necati Kaleli
Journal of Prosthodontics. 2017;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
18 Methods of cleft lip and palate treatment over the centuries – a historical view
Danuta Ilczuk-Rypula,Daria Pietraszewska,Maria Kempa,Marzena Zalewska-Ziob,Andrzej Wiczkowski
Annales Academiae Medicae Silesiensis. 2017; 71: 399
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
19 Oral and maxillofacial rehabilitation of a patient suffering from intraosseous adenoid cystic carcinoma
Janine WAECHTER,Cristina Braga XAVIER,Gislene CORRÊA,Eduardo de Freitas GOMES,Romeu Belon FERNANDES FILHO
RGO - Revista Gaúcha de Odontologia. 2017; 65(2): 168
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
20 A photoelastic and strain gauge comparison of two attachments for obturator prostheses
Marcelo Coelho Goiato,Henrique Rinaldi Matheus,Rodrigo Antonio de Medeiros,Daniela Micheline dos Santos,Sandro Basso Bitencourt,Aldiéris Alves Pesqueira
The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry. 2016;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded990    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 20    

Recommend this journal