Evaluation of speech in patients with partial surgically acquired defects: pre and post prosthetic obturation

A O Arigbede, O O Dosumu, O P Shaba, T A Esan
Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice 2006 February 15, 7 (1): 89-96

AIM: Maxillectomy often results in a high level of morbidity with significant psychological and functional implications for the patient. Such disabilities include inability to masticate, deglutition, and speech disturbance. Unfortunately, little is known about the nature of the speech disturbance and the influence of the class of surgical defects in this group of patients. The aims of the present study were to assess the effectiveness of the maxillary obturator as a speech rehabilitation aid and to examine the influence of the classes of surgical defects on speech intelligibility (SI).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twelve patients aged between 18 and 60 years with surgically acquired partial maxillary defects were included in this study. The patients were given immediate surgical obturators six to ten days after surgery, which were then converted to interim obturators by relining with tissue conditioner. Interim prostheses were used for two to three months until healing and resorption were found satisfactory after which the definitive obturators were fabricated. The SI test described by Plank et al. and Wheeler et al. was employed in this study. There were significant improvements in the mean SI score from 59.8% without prosthetic obturation, to 89.2% following interim obturation, and 94.7% following definitive obturation (p<0.005). Nine patients (75%) had class I surgical defects, two patients (16.67%) had class II defects, while only one patient (8.33%) had a class VI surgical defect. None of the patients had class III, IV, or class V surgical defects. There was an improvement in the SI score from class I to class VI without obturation, after insertion of interim obturator, and after insertion of the definitive obturator.

CONCLUSION: Results support the widely held view that the maxillary obturator is a useful speech rehabilitation aid. It also shows immediate, interim, and definitive obturators are all important in the speech rehabilitation of patients with surgically acquired maxillary defects. Moreover SI is affected by the class of defect.

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