Purpose: Evaluation of treatment outcome is important in maxillofacial rehabilitation. Although eating is one of the oral functions that most strongly influences patients’ quality of life, only a few reports exist on the objective assessment of swallowing for maxillectomy patients. The purpose of this study was to identify changes in the swallowing ability of maxillectomy patients when wearing obturator prostheses through the use of an objective clinical assessment. Materials and Methods: The swallowing ability of 38 postmaxillectomy patients consecutively treated with obturator prostheses was objectively evaluated with the “water-drinking test” that was developed for the assessment of dysphagia patients after cerebrovascular disease. In this test, the subjects were instructed to drink 30 mL of water in one swallow. The profile was evaluated with the combination of the time required for drinking the water and the incidence of cough reflex. Statistical analysis was performed using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test, the paired t test, and the Chi-square test with StatView 5.0 for the Macintosh. Results: Performance improved significantly when the patients wore prostheses (P = .0026, Wilcoxon signed-rank test). The mean drinking times without and with prostheses were 8.2 ± 6.3 s and 5.0 ± 3.5 s, respectively. Drinking time was shortened significantly when the prosthesis was worn (P = .0002, paired t test). The assessment of behavior and episodes revealed that the swallowing ability of the maxillectomy patients was significantly improved when a prosthesis was worn (P = .0002, Chi-square test). Conclusion: The swallowing ability of maxillectomy patients was quantitatively and qualitatively improved with obturator prostheses.
Int J Prosthodont 2005;18:475–479.