Can teeth or a jaw be reconstructed after head or neck surgery?

After head or neck surgery, your surgeon can perform reconstructive surgery to restore your jaw and teeth so you can eat, talk, and function more normally. Using bone, skin and muscle grafts from various parts of the body, the surgeon can reconstruct your jaw. Your natural teeth will be replaced with dental implants. After recovery, you should be able to speak and eat real food. Occupational therapists and speech therapists can help you adjust to the jaw and teeth reconstruction.
Randall D. Stastny, DMD
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
As a rule, yes they can. Depending on the surgery there may be multiple steps in recontructing the jaws and teeth, but it can be done. Sometimes the reconstruction can be started at the same time the original head and neck surgery is done.
Johns Hopkins Medicine
With the help of specially trained doctors, your affected teeth or jaw can be reconstructed following treatment for head and neck cancer.

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.
In many cases, an oral surgeon and prosthodontist are the ideal specialists to provide the dental implant surgery as well as the restoration.

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.

Continue Learning about Common Dental Procedures

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.