Occasional Contributor


Does anyone currently have an obturator to cover the opening to the sinus cavity. My husband had surgery in March 2019 to remove cancer from his upper gum along with several teeth and part of the roof of the mouth. He is getting very frustrated with trying to eat.

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Frequent Contributor

Re: Obturators

Greetings CAP,


I have found some sites or resources that might prove somehow useful to you. If I discover any more information I will update this post. I hope something will assist.


https://headandneckcancerguide.org/adults/cancer-diagnosis-treatments/surgery-and-rehabilitation/rec... - Head & Neck Cancer Guide – Prosthetic Rehabilitation


https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/head-and-neck-cancers/coping/side-effects-and-s... - MacMillan Cancer Support – Effects on eating and drinking after head and neck cancer treatment


“Treatment can affect eating and drinking. Chewing and swallowing involve your lips, teeth, tongue and the muscles in your mouth, jaw and throat working together. Surgery or radiotherapy for a head and neck cancer can affect this. Tell your speech and language therapist (SLT), doctor or nurse about any eating or swallowing problems you have.


An SLT can do a swallowing test to show what happens when you swallow, so they know what the best treatment is likely to be. They can teach you exercises and techniques to help you chew and swallow and advise you on the best foods to eat”


https://community.macmillan.org.uk/cancer_experiences/ask_the_expert/ask_a_dentist/discussions - MacMillan Cancer Support - You can ask a (UK) dentist for advice on these forums or find related stories as some things are universal  


(You can contact MacMillian with general advice or questions on contact@macmillan.org.uk for additional research purposes).


https://www.cancervic.org.au/get-support/connect-and-learn/ask-a-nurse - The Cancer Council Victoria (AUS) – You can speak with a nurse or even e- mail one your general questions, if you like.


“Our 13 11 20 Information and Support Line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (cost of a local call, except from mobiles), and is staffed by experienced cancer nurses. Although we can't give individual medical advice, we can talk about the effects of specific types of cancer and explain what will happen during processes


like chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other cancer treatments. We can also provide tailored informational, emotional and practical support, and can link you with our wider range of support programs.”


Additional information recommended by the UK Cancer Research:


https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/mouth-cancer/living-with/resources-books - UK Research Cancer – “There are lots of organizations, chat groups, books, videos and other resources to help you cope with mouth and oropharyngeal cancer and treatment.”


https://community.macmillan.org.uk/cancer_types/head-neck-cancer/f/head-neck-cancer-forum/34721/part... - MacMillian Cancer forum – People sharing some of their journeys

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Super Contributor

Re: Obturators

The word obturator felt familiar, but I couldn't place it - was guessing at a nerve in the lower back - but when I went to search it ....


ahhh, sweet weepin' Jesus, terrible stuff.


I don't have any practical advice (except that soup is the best mate of anybody who's had head & neck cancer treatment), I just felt that it's such a ghastly thing to suffer with - not just the practicalities of eating, but also just having your overall self esteem rattled (assuming you can look through the face and see the inner workings).


I feel such a deep sympathy for someone dealing with that.


It's strange, I carry pain and daily problems, but to the outside world I just get judgemental looks due to the obesity (radiation destroyed my thyroid and weight piled on after treatment).  It's not a self-consciousness or a paranoia, people do genuinely look at you and judge you ever day.  Having an exposed sinus cavity and an obturator sounds cosmetically awful.


But also functionally tough too.


Maybe try luke-warm to warm soups / broth, easy to eat stuff, and consume it via the spoonful (or even a straw) ?  


We all have to eat, but we don't all have to eat in the SAME way - it would be ideal to find some kind of enjoyment from food / mealtime, or at a minimum to make it as convenient and functional as possible.


Soup is the friend of the head & neck cancer patient, beyond that, sorry, I wish I could give some helpful advice.


If he's demoralised by the cosmetics as well, I'd say find ways to rebuild fun - ie what "fun" actaully means.  Considering stuff like:


- if he's reluctant to go out into the world, but never really been a computer guy, if you're cashed up, get a VR kit and some VR story games - it truly immerses you in a 3D video like story experience that can bring fun into your home

- (or expand on existing hobbies or find a new one - I started learning the guitar)

- if reluctant to go out into the world, but willing to try, think of some kind of mask or cosmetic prosthesis if you don't already have one, and activities that minimise (the ignorant or the unkind) people from staring and making him feel bad about the missing nose .. stuff like the movies, you know .. it gives normalcy but no staring as youre in a dark room


Hey maybe he still has my schnozz and I've misinterpretted the condition, if so, sorry !


I know the cosmetics are secondary to functionality and survival, but I reckon morale still plays an important part in a cancer patient's life.  We have to have (and protect) a sense of hope.

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