The OMFS Oncology team at Boston Medical Center offers patients an all-encompassing and holistic care experience — spanning diagnosis, treatment, and reconstruction — not available anywhere else in New England. We specialize in treating patients with cancerous and non-cancerous tumors of the jaw, mouth, and face. Our goal is to maximize our patients’ quality of life after treatment, including creating well-fitting teeth so they can chew, swallow, and talk, and maintain a positive sense of self.
Treatment Planning and Surgery
Our two oral maxillofacial surgeons have highly specialized training in microvascular reconstructive surgery. This means they not only remove tumors from the jaw and face, but can also reconstruct the jaw or parts of the face at the same time.
To plan for this highly complex surgery, the team uses computer-assisted planning. This involves taking three-dimensional scans of the jaw, leg bone, and blood vessels, allowing the surgeon to precisely plan the best surgical strategy for the patient’s unique anatomy. Computer-assisted planning makes the surgery more accurate and predictable. The detailed prior planning also reduces the patient’s time in surgery.
Dental Implants and Maxillofacial Prosthesis
During the planning stage, our surgeons work closely with our maxillofacial prosthodontist and oncology dentist to determine the dental needs of each patient prior to surgery. In many cases, patients need to have teeth removed during surgery. For patients who need radiation treatment after surgery, there is a small window of time to plan for dental implants before the radiation treatment. Because our team includes an in-house maxillofacial prosthodontist, we are able to plan where the implants will be placed in the areas where teeth are missing during the surgery. These implants can be used to hold a prosthesis once radiation treatment is complete. This step is critical, because if the implants are not planned for and placed during surgery, it is often not be possible to place them after radiation. This may leave patients with few options for well-fitting dentures.
Jaw in a Day Procedure
Our team also offers the innovative Jaw in a Day procedure, available at only a handful of practices around the country. This procedure allows patents to get an implant-supported prosthesis on the same day as surgery, instead of waiting for months after the surgery. Although Jaw in a Day is only recommended for patients with certain types of conditions, for those who meet the criteria, it can be a great option.
Depending on the location of an oral tumor, surgery to remove it may cause numbness of the lower lip or tongue. This numbness is due to the removal of sections of nerve within the tumor. Our surgeons offer reconstruction of these nerves, which may allow for recovery of sensation to the affected areas. This procedure can be completed at the same time as tumor removal using donor nerves (without taking any nerves from the patient’s body).
Our oral pathologist specializes in seeing patients with lesions (abnormal tissue areas) in the mouth or jaw. If the lesion looks like it may be cancer or pre-cancer, a sample of the tissue will be taken (called a biopsy) to look more closely at the cells. If the lesion is cancerous, then the pathologist will refer the patient to our specialized surgeons to remove it and rebuild the jaw or parts of the face. This is called reconstruction. In some cases, lesions that are non-cancerous (benign) may also need to be removed.
A Unique and Specialized Team
Our unique team includes highly specialized surgeons and a maxillofacial prosthodontist and oncology dentist (one of only two in New England). This allows us to provide a complete range of care for patients, including jaw reconstruction and dental prosthetics, all under one roof and managed by a coordinated team of clinicians.