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Dr Martin Osswald - BDS, MDent


Title: Maxillofacial prosthodontics - current concepts - the way we do it at iRSM

Maxillary and mandibular defects due to head and neck oncology treatment leave a trail of anatomic, functional and psychological deficiencies. Management of these defects includes surgical and/or prosthodontic modalities. Prosthodontic modalities permit monitoring of the defect site; however, the patient is constantly reminded of the defect and the disease.  Although feasible and preferable in smaller defects, Surgical closure with soft tissue does compromise prosthetic rehabilitation in a large defect due to poor prosthodontic support.

In larger defects, using bone-containing microvascular free flap transfer techniques has significantly improved jaw reconstruction in head and neck oncology.  However, there are challenges consisting of the accuracy of the position and insertion of bone flaps and the time scales for oral rehabilitation for these patients, which could extend anywhere from 3 – 5 years or more.  The advent of advanced digital technologies has allowed surgical management to be raised to new levels of precision and accuracy. This has led to combining the resection, reconstruction and rehabilitation pathways in head and neck oncology. It has significantly reduced oral rehabilitation times ranging from 6-12 months for benign conditions to 12-18 months for malignant diseases, along with its attendant improvements in function and aesthetics. 

To achieve this level of sophistication, along with the convergence of various technologies, it is important that a team of specialists from diverse fields carry out the planning and management.   At the Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine (iRSM), Edmonton, Canada, colleagues from Maxillofacial Prosthodontics, Head and Neck Surgery, Surgical Design and Simulation, Dental Lab Technology, among others, work with each other.  In this presentation series, we hope to share with our colleagues at the BSSPD Platinum Jubilee conference how our team leverages advanced digital technologies for better outcomes for our patients.

Aims and objectives:

  • To understand the use of surgical design and simulation in planning jaw reconstruction and oral rehabilitation in head and neck oncology.
  • To appreciate the need for a team of specialists to be involved in planning and management in head and neck oncology.
  • To recognize the improved patient outcomes in head and neck oncology when advanced digital technologies are employed in its management.

Dr. Martin Osswald is an associate professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Alberta, and practices as a maxillofacial prosthodontist at the Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine (iRSM). He is also the director of the International Fellowship in Maxillofacial Prosthodontics Program at iRSM

Dr. Osswald is a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where he completed his undergraduate dental and postgraduate specialty training in prosthodontics. From 2003 to 2006, Dr. Osswald held concurrent positions as principal dentist with the Gauteng Department of Health, and prosthodontic registrar with the Department of Prosthodontics, School of Oral Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. On completion of his prosthodontic specialty training in 2006, he held a specialist prosthodontist consultant position at the University of the Witwatersrand and ran a private prosthodontic practice in Johannesburg, before joining the University of Alberta and iRSM in 2009.

His research activities have included the design of osseointegrated prostheses, associated material sciences, the relevant cost implications and digital technologies available. His current clinical and research interests are in the field of osseointegrated rehabilitation of maxillofacial defects, particularly in the surgical and functional reconstruction of the maxilla and mandible, utilizing advanced digital technologies in simulated digital surgical design pathways, for patient care. His research activities have expanded into the field of regenerative medicine and the development of customized functionalized scaffolds for replacement of structures in the head and neck.

Dr. Osswald is a keen cyclist and enjoys travelling.




Martin Osswald