The health care team will help you return to normal activities as soon as possible. The goals of rehabilitation depend on the extent of the disease and type of treatment. Rehabilitation may include being fitted with a dental prosthesis (an artificial dental device) and having dental implants. It also may involve speech therapy, dietary counseling, or other services.
Sometimes surgery to rebuild the bones or tissues of the mouth is not possible. A dentist with special training (a prosthodontist) may be able to make you a prosthesis to help you eat and talk normally. You may need special training to learn to use it.
If oral cancer or its treatment leads to problems with talking, speech therapy will generally begin as soon as possible. A speech therapist may see you in the hospital to plan therapy and teach speech exercises. Often speech therapy continues after you return home.
Some people with oral cancer may need to have plastic or reconstructive surgery to rebuild the bones or tissues of the mouth. Research has led to many advances in the way bones and tissues can be replaced. The Dental Oncology clinic provides funding to patients for such prosthetics through the Assistive Devices Program.
Some people may need dental implants or they may need to have grafts (tissue moved from another part of the body). Skin, muscle, and bone can be moved to the oral cavity from the chest, arm, or leg. The plastic surgeon uses this tissue for repair.