Initially, dental implants were used in patients missing all of their teeth. Now, the same principles are applied to the replacement of a single tooth, multiple teeth, or an entire arch of teeth with the same high degree of success.
Some head and neck cancer patients need to have part of the jaw removed during surgery, affecting both speech and function. The jaw-reconstruction process is multi-step:
- The team evaluates patients to design their prosthetics before undergoing jaw removal surgery.
- They coordinate with surgeons to implant titanium screws in facial bones at the same time as jaw removal surgery.
- Two months later, after the jaw has healed, patients return to the team so the doctors can place attachments to the screws.
The Johns Hopkins team is also starting to employ new technology, enabling image-guided procedures. The team is using new computer software to view three-dimensional computed tomography (CT) images of a patient's jaw. Doctors can then design the implants through the program, resulting in quicker treatment that is the most efficient and accurate as possible.