Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria
Home - About us - Editorial board - Search - Ahead of print - Current issue - Archives - Submit article - Instructions - Subscribe - Advertise - Contacts - Login 
  Users Online: 1749   Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size

  Table of Contents 
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 12  |  Page : 1629-1634

Retention systems used in maxillofacial prostheses: A review

Department of Prosthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Kirikkale, Kirikkale, Turkey

Date of Submission12-Feb-2019
Date of Acceptance23-Apr-2019
Date of Web Publication3-Dec-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. A C Bulut
Department of Prosthodontics, University of Kirikkale, Faculty of Dentistry, Yenisehir Mahallesi Celebi Sokak No:1 Yahsihan, Kirikkale
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njcp.njcp_92_19

Rights and Permissions

Defects in the face area caused by trauma, accident, tumor or congenital defects are treated with special facial prostheses. Besides esthetics, the most common problem with these prostheses is the retention of prostheses. In the present article review, the methods used for the retention of prostheses from past to present were researched, and the advantages of adhesives and implants, which are the most commonly used current methods, were evaluated. Current techniques, new materials, treatment options, and implementation procedures are described. The success of maxillofacial prostheses in meeting the expectations of patients and dentist doctors is increasing day by day with the development of adhesive material science, the emergence of technical knowledge, and the development of implant technology. Increasing the retention provides both ease of use and acceptance by the patient. Therefore, the chosen method for retention has great importance in the long-term prognosis of the prosthesis.

Keywords: Adhesive, extraoral implants, facial prostheses, maxillofacial prostheses, maxillofacial prosthodontics, retention

How to cite this article:
Diken Türksayar A A, Saglam S A, Bulut A C. Retention systems used in maxillofacial prostheses: A review. Niger J Clin Pract 2019;22:1629-34

How to cite this URL:
Diken Türksayar A A, Saglam S A, Bulut A C. Retention systems used in maxillofacial prostheses: A review. Niger J Clin Pract [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Nov 28];22:1629-34. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Prosthetics are artificial materials that imitate an organ or an organ group lacking in an organism for functional or aesthetic purposes. Facial prostheses are also used in defects stemming from congenital reasons, trauma, accident or tumor, in the facial area. Facial defects are treated surgically or prosthetically to meet the necessary functions, to provide a more aesthetic appearance, to maintain soft and hard tissue continuity, and to compensate for the tissue loss that may have a negative psychological effect on the patient.[1],[2],[3]

During archeological excavations, remnants of jaw facial prosthesis were found in many different civilizations, but the French surgeon Ambroise Pare prepared the facial prosthesis according to official records. In his book, he offers a great amount of information about the use and construction of facial prosthesis and describes many examples of different designs, materials, and facial prostheses.[4],[5] Developments in facial dentures were accelerated during World War I. Until the 1930s, the most widely used vulcanite was replaced with plastic, methyl methacrylate, glass, and silica.

The most important factors affecting the success of the maxillofacial prosthesis are retention and appearance. With the introduction of silicone for the facial prostheses in 1946, the success of prosthetics has increased both in terms of aesthetics and functionality.[4],[5] Nowadays, the retention of facial dentures is still a major problem, and different methods have been developed to cope with this issue.

   Search Strategy Top

In the present article review, scientific articles in the English language published in MEDLINE database until October 2016 are included. The following search terms and their combinations were used: “facial prostheses,” “maxillofacial prostheses,” “maxillofacial prosthodontics,” “adhesives,” “retention,” and “extraoral implants.” Additional information was obtained from relevant journals and textbooks.

   Retention Top

In the retention of facial prostheses, mechanical factors such as adhesions, crowns, and magnets as well as anatomic factors such as hard and soft tissue residue in trauma or post-surgery defect, concavities and protrusions in auricular or orbital region, zygoma support, and external auditory pathway have been utilized. After evaluating the adjacent anatomical tissues, various methods have been tested depending on the shape and size of the defect, the systemic condition, and age of the patient. The most commonly used retention methods include adhesives and implants.[6],[7],[8]

   Adhesives Top

Medical adhesives are more often classified according to their use; double-sided tape, glue, sprayers, pastes, and liquid systems are classified according to the silicone substrate.[9] Latex-based pats and surgical cement cause odors and remain on the surface of the skin and prosthesis as they are difficult to remove. For this reason, they are not highly preferred. Double-sided tape is the most highly preferred type of adhesive due to its ease of application, easy removal, and renewability. However, this kind of tape has certain disadvantages such as low flexibility and the need for frequent reassembly due to the loss of stickiness. The type of adhesive to be used with the maxillofacial elastomer and the cleaning solution should be carefully selected. Adhesives and solvents may adversely affect the physical and optical properties of the maxillofacial elastomers.[8] The properties of ideal adhesive materials are described in [Table 1].[8]
Table 1: Ideal adhesive material properties

Click here to view

There are some disadvantages to using an adhesive. It can damage both the prosthesis surface and the skin during insertion and removal. They do not provide sufficient adhesion against gravity, sweating, and tissue movement. If adhesive systems used for a long time, they may cause contact dermatitis. The use of adhesives may cause a change in the color of the prosthesis. Adhesives can disrupt the prosthesis structure and abrade the edges. All adhesive systems are inadequate to ensure the rigid fixation of facial prostheses. Thicker prosthetic margins are used in order to facilitate the application of adhesives increase both microorganism involvement and aesthetic damage due to the non-resetting of the marginal passage.[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13]

Types of adhesive materials

Facial prostheses are often used in adhesive systems such as acrylic resins, silicone adhesives, and pressure sensitive tapes. Acrylic resin adhesives are soluble in water and gain elasticity when water evaporates. These adhesives can be easily removed from all prosthetic materials except polyurethane. Hydrobond (Epithane 3) is an example of this system. Silicone adhesives are extremely resistant to moisture and absorb very little water. They are not affected by chemicals, oil, or sunlight. Room temperature vulcanizing (RTV) silicone adhesives are low molecular weight polymers ending with hydroxy. An example of this group is secure medical adhesive (SMA). Pressure sensitive tapes are another option. A market example of this type is 3M double-sided tape. These systems applied with finger pressure may be recommended for use with liquid adhesives to increase the bonding strength.[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14]

Tissue protectors may be used to reduce the side effects of adhesives and to increase the bonding strength. In a detailed study on Epithane 3 and SMA by Kint-amnuay and colleagues, it was reported that secure medical adhesives are more retentive than Epithane 3, the use of tissue protectors on both materials has a positive effect on binding, the effect of adhesives is reduced in about 8 h, and the combination of both materials increases the connectivity (when SMA was applied on the skin, on the E3 silicone prosthesis), and that repeated applications of SMA had a positive effect on the connection.[7]

Adhesive use in facial prostheses is easily accepted by patients and families because of its cost-effectiveness, non-invasiveness, and lack of aggressive side effects. Patients should be told to remove the prosthesis once a day to clear the surrounding tissue. It is highly recommended that the prosthesis be removed before resting in order to decrease the risk of skin contact disorders and to allow the tissues to rest.[15]

   Implant Top

The most significant problem in the placement of facial implants is insufficient bone volume. Bone thickness in the temporal and supraorbital regions, suitable places for implant placement, ranges between 2.5 and 6 mm; hence, extraoral implants were designed to be 3–4 mm long and 5 mm in diameter, unlike intraoral implants. However, longer implants may also be used where bone mass, such as nasal and orbital bone, is adequate. Extraoral implants have wing extensions and holes to provide mechanical stability and retention.[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16] It has been reported that these wings may cause bacterial involvement, debris accumulation, and infection.[17],[18]

Originally, craniofacial implants were introduced by Nobel Pharma, then transferred to Nobel Biocare, Göteburg in the Swedish market. This implant system and the Branemarkosseointegration system were developed from the oral concept using the same drill and implant surface. This implant system has remained relatively unchanged for years. Today, they are all placed mainly on the original implant, with several other systems available using the other surfaces of the fixture (Conexcao®, Otorix®, Straumann, ITI). Today, there are also original untreated surfaces.[19]

Implant application area

Craniofacial osseointegration planning is multifaceted. Computed tomography (CT) scans or other radiographic evaluations of bone mass are important. CT scan records can be analyzed and used in the planning of an implant. Implant planning software allows for the assessment of bone volume and density.[20]

Asar et al. interpreted the classification of the bone regions in which the facial implants made by Jensen and his colleagues[21] could be placed as follows [Figure 1]:
Figure 1: Implant placement of the facial prosthesis frontal view

Click here to view

a-bone regions: In these regions, which permit the use of dental implants as well as zygomatic implants, bone volume is 6 mm or more. The anterior aspect of maxillary, zygomatic arch, and zygoma are examples of these regions. These bone regions on the facial skeleton include the anterior maxillary, zygoma, and/or zygomatic arthritis. The lateral aspect of the periorbital bone was found to be mostly 6 or 7 mm in length.

b-bone zones: In 4-5 mm bone volumes, 4 mm craniofacial implants can be used. These bone regions are present in the greater part of the superior, lateral, and inferolateral orbital margins, and especially the mastoid margin of the zygoma and temporal bone.

c-bone zones: The margin areas are 3 mm or less in bone mass. Some parts of the temporal bone in the facial area are the pyriform edge, infraorbital margin, nasal bone, and zygomatic arch. They require the use of craniofacial implants of 3 mm or less.[16]

Implants applied to maxillofacial prostheses should be placed according to some principles. In order to prevent any damage, the skin layers should be surgically thinned and this operation should be done 10 mm away from the abutments. The implants should be 1 cm apart from each other for hygienic purposes. The bars fixed between abutments should follow natural facial features and be designed to provide the necessary hygiene. Implants should be at least 7 mm away from the hairy scalp. If this is not possible, skin grafting should be performed.[6],[22],[23]

Implant systems used in extraoral prostheses

Bar systems

In bar systems, there is a bar that connects the implants to each other and a retentive lock that sits in this bar. The bars used in these systems are gold alloys and are about 2 mm in diameter. These retention systems are especially preferred for auricular prosthesis. The construction technique of the bar systems is very fragile. Passive alignment between the bar and the implants should be ensured in order to achieve the force distribution. To hold the clips in the prosthesis, an acrylic plate is prepared. Leaving a distance of about 1.5 mm between the bar and the tissue is important to allow for the easy cleansing of this area. Bar systems, unlike magnet systems, do not rust when they come in contact with body fluids. However, it is difficult to clean the underside of the bar due to the pedestal portion of the prosthesis.[16],[18],[24],[25] Bar systems take up more space in the prosthesis; therefore, the silicone structure should be thick enough to hide the reflection of the grayish color of the substrate and prevent the silicone material from breaking.[26]

Magnetic systems

Magnet systems consist of individual implant supports that do not require superstructure preparation and are not interconnected. These systems are used in the retention of a facial prosthesis, in regions with high muscle activity adjacent to the prosthesis; in cases where the ability to use the hand is inadequate, the bone is thin, and the implant is desired to reduce the forces applied to the bone.[16] Magnetic retention systems are preferred in orbital defects, even when the risk of corrosion is taken into account because the prostheses used by the magnet systems are easy to be placed by the patient.[18]

Facial implant application principles

Auricular area

The location of the implants in the temporal region is very important for the aesthetics of auricular prosthesis. Implants should be placed at the anti-helix level because retention systems must remain within the limits of the auricular prosthesis. Two implants placed in the temporal region may provide retention of the auricular prosthesis. In such cases, the two implants should be 15 mm apart from each other and each of them should be approximately 18 mm away from the center of the auricular duct. An implant should be placed at 9 o'clock and 11 o'clock positions for the right ear and at 1 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions for the left ear [Figure 2]. These traditional suggestions should be regarded as a constant principle. The exact positions of the implants should be determined using a wax sample and a surgical stent.[14],[16] The advantages and disadvantages of implants used in the auricular area can be summarized in [Table 2].[27]
Figure 2: Implant placements and bar application in auricular prosthesis

Click here to view
Table 2: The advantages and disadvantages of implants used in the auricular area

Click here to view

Despite the complexity of preoperative planning for the placement of osseointegrated prosthetic implants in auricular site defects, technical simplicity and cosmetic results are superior to traditional reconstructive procedures. These implants can be combined with osseointegrated hearing implants, although the planning and surgical steps become more complex when tissue loss is accompanied by hearing loss.[28]

Orbital and ocular area

Compared with auricular prostheses, in the orbital region, the disadvantage of using adhesives is more; therefore, implants are also needed frequently. Depending on the secretions, the humidity generated under the prosthesis lowers patient satisfaction, especially when adhesives are used. The easy removal of the implant prosthesis helps to protect the orbital area from airing and touching.[18]

Ocular prostheses

Although ocular implants today are diversified with the use of different materials, there are two basic groups of structures:

  • Integrated (porous) implants: These implants allow fibrous tissue formation through porous structures. Integral implants, usually fabricated in spheres of different sizes and containing hydroxyapatite, move the tissue bed. Thus, the prosthesis that is to be placed on the implant also provides movement
  • Non-integrated implants: These implants have no direct mechanical connection to the eye prosthesis. They are usually covered with a mesh-like material that allows the rectum muscles to bind.[29]

Orbital prostheses

Because of the osseous anatomy of the orbital bone, orbital implants must be placed radially into the orbital boundary to provide adequate bone thickness for retention. Due to the increase in bone thickness and quality, implant placement in the lateral walls is usually recommended. In most cases, the medial border is problematic due to the increased anatomical complexity resulting from the lacrimal fossa and the lack of adequate bone. Unfortunately, this means that the desired axial loading of the implants is impossible in this region, which is a less favorable biomechanical condition compared to other craniofacial implant sites. For this reason, it may be necessary to consider a rigorous technique for staged bone grafting for a successful implant-supported orbital prosthesis. Usually, three to four implants are placed in the lateral wall to provide denture stability. For prosthesis aesthetics, implants should be placed on the upper or side of the orbital wall so that it can be camouflaged by the prosthesis.[29]

Nasal prostheses

Implant placement in the nasal region may be technically challenging due to insufficient bone quality and thickness. The complex anatomy of the nasal cavity and adjacent tissues affects the success of the implant surgeon in this region. Especially in patients who have received radiotherapy, this situation may be even more challenging. Mean bone measurements up to the perineal area, pyriform edge (2.9 mm), glabella (12.8 mm), and the anterior aspect of the nasal fossa (10.2 mm) showed that optimal bone capacity was limited to the anterior nasal fossa.[21] The implants are usually placed in a triangular plane. The nasal floor and the frontal face of the maxilla are ideal areas for implant placement. Occasionally, implant placement on glabella is considered, but studies have shown that implant success in this region is low. The implants should be inserted gently into the nasal cavity to reach adequate bone. Adequate prosthesis thickness should be provided as in the orbital reconstruction.[30],[31]

   Other Retention Methods Top

In cases where an implant or adhesive systems cannot be used for a variety of reasons, eyeglasses can be used effectively, especially for nasal prostheses. When eyeglasses have thick, opaque frames, they help to camouflage the prosthetic margins. A commonly used method is the permanent attachment of prostheses, in cases including mid-field face defects, to the glasses. In this case, however, the patient's prosthesis is removed when the eyeglasses are removed, an unacceptable situation. To overcome this problem, sensitive adhesive attachments may be placing on the frame of eyeglasses.[32]

   Conclusion Top

Facial prostheses increase the quality of life of the patients with congenital defects or trauma, accident or tumor caused defects in the facial region when plastic surgery is insufficient or impossible. Increasing the prostheses retention provides both ease of use and acceptance by the patient. The condition of the adjacent tissues, the patient's expectations, and the financial situation give the dentist the idea of which retention system to use. Although adhesive retention systems develop day by day, it is obvious that implant systems provide much higher retention. According to the area where the facial prosthesis will be applied, the presence of different implant systems with bar holders or magnetic holders provides maximum retention and comfort of use.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Taylor TD. Clinical Maxillofacial Prosthetics. Illinois: Quintessence Publishing Co. Inc.; 2000.  Back to cited text no. 1
Johnson F, Cannavina G, Brook I, Watson J. Facial prosthetics: Techniques used in the retention of prostheses following ablative cancer surgery or trauma and for congenital defects. Eur J Prosthodont Restor Dent 2000;8:5-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Goulart DR, Sigua-Rodriguez EA, Alvarez-Pinzon N, Fernandes AUR, Queiroz E. Quality of life of patients with facial prostheses. Rev Fac Odontol Univ Antioq 2017;29:131-47.  Back to cited text no. 3
Kurtoǧlu C, Uzel İ. Facial prosthetic materials: Past to Present. CÜ Diş Hek Fak Derg 2008;11:140-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
Controy B, Hulterstorm A. The history and development of facial prosthetics. Dent Tech 1978;3:11-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
Mekayarajjananonth T, LoCascio SJ, Winkler S, Salinas TJ, Guerra LR. Alternative retention for an implant-retained auricular prosthesis. J Oral Implantol 2002;28:117-21.  Back to cited text no. 6
Kiat-amnuay S, Gettleman L, Khan Z, Goldsmith LJ. Effect of adhesive retention on maxillofacial prostheses. Part I: Skin dressings and solvent removers. J Prosthet Dent 2000;84:335-40.  Back to cited text no. 7
Beumer J, Mark TM, Salvatore JE. Maxillofacial Rehabilitation: Prosthodontic and Surgical Management of Cancer-Related, Acquired, and Congenital Defects of the Head and Neck. 3rd ed. HanoverPark, IL: Quintessence Pub.; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 8
Karatas MÖ, Özdemir D, Azak AN, Evlioǧlu G. Adhesives in maxillofacial prosthesis. İÜ Diş Hek Fak Derg 2005;39:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 9
Cobein MV, Coto NP, Crivello Junior O, Lemos JB, Vieira LM, Pimentel ML, et al. Retention systems for extraoral maxillofacial prosthetic implants: A critical review. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2017;55:763-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
Kiat-Amnuay S, Gettleman L, Khan Z, Goldsmith LJ. Effect of adhesive retention of maxillofacial prostheses. Part 2: Time and reapplication effects. J Prosthet Dent 2001;85:438-41.  Back to cited text no. 11
Kiat-Amnuay S, Gettleman L, Goldsmith LJ. Effect of multi-adhesive layering on retention of extraoral maxillofacial silicone prostheses in vivo. J Prosthet Dent 2004;92:294-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
Pekkan G, Tuna SH, Oghan F. Extraoral prostheses using extraoral implants. Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2011;40:378-83.  Back to cited text no. 13
McKinstry RE, Fundamentals of Facial Prosthetics. 1st ed. Arlington: ABI Professional Publications; 1995.  Back to cited text no. 14
Negahdari R, Pournasrollah A, Bohlouli S, SighariDeljavan A. Rehabilitation of a partial nasal defect with facial prosthesis: A case report. J Dent Res Dent Clin Dent Prospects 2014;8:256-9.  Back to cited text no. 15
Asar NV, Yazıcıoglu H, Yaluǧ S, Yılmaz C. Implant supported facial prostheses. GÜ Diş Hek Fak Derg 2008;25:41-9.  Back to cited text no. 16
Westin T, Tjellstrom A, Hammerlid E, Bergstrom K, Rangert B. Long-term study of quality and safety of osseointegration for the retention of auricular prostheses. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1999;121:133-43.  Back to cited text no. 17
Pehlivan N, KarakocaNemli S, Karacaer Ö. Maxillofacial prosthesis and extraoral implants. Gazi Üni Diş Hek Fak Der 2011;28:123-9.  Back to cited text no. 18
Granstörm G. Craniofacial osseointegration. Oral Diseases 2007;13:261-9.  Back to cited text no. 19
Wolfaardt J, Gehl G, Farmand M, Wilkes G. Indications and methods of care for aspects of extraoralosseointegration. Int. J. Oral Maxillofac Surg 2003;32:124-31.  Back to cited text no. 20
Jensen OT, Brown C, Blacker J. Nasofacial prostheses supported by osseointegrated implants. Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants 1992;7:203-11.  Back to cited text no. 21
Jacobson M, Tjellstrom A, Fine L, Jansson K. An evaluation of auricular prosthesis using osseointegrated implants. Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci 1992;17:482-6.  Back to cited text no. 22
Atay A. Overview of Maxillofacial Prosthetics. New York: Nova Science Publishers; 2013.  Back to cited text no. 23
Nishimura RD, Roumanas E, Moy PK, Sugai T, Freymiller EG. Osseointegrated implants and orbital defects: U.C.L.A. experience. J Prosthet Dent 1998;79:304-9.  Back to cited text no. 24
Arcuri MR, Rubenstein JT. Facial implants. Dent Clin North Am 1998;42:161-75.  Back to cited text no. 25
Visser A, Vechiato Filho AJ, Raghoebar GM, Brandao TB. A simple technique for placing extraoral implants at an optimal position in orbital defects. J Prosthodont 2016;27:784-5.  Back to cited text no. 26
Federspil PA. The role of auricular prostheses (epitheses) in ear reconstruction. Facial Plast Surg 2015;31:626-32.  Back to cited text no. 27
Rocke DJ, Tucci DL, Marcus J, McClennen J, Kaylie D. Osseointegrated implants for auricular defects: Operative techniques and complication management. Otol Neurotol 2014;35:1609-14.  Back to cited text no. 28
Yeshwante B, Choudhary N, Baig N. Ocular prosthesis-a review. J Dent Med Sci 2015;14:63-7.  Back to cited text no. 29
Miles BA, Sinn DP, Gion GG. Experience with cranial implant-based prosthetic reconstruction. J Craniofac Surg 2006;17:889-97.  Back to cited text no. 30
Flood TR, Russell K. Reconstruction of nasal defects with implant-retained nasal prostheses. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1998;36:341-5.  Back to cited text no. 31
Karakoca S, Ersu B. Attaching a midfacial prosthesis to eyeglass frames using a precision attachment. J Prosthet Dent 2009;102:264-5.  Back to cited text no. 32


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Estimation of differences and reapplication effect of peel bond strength between silicone-based and water-based adhesives
Rangeela Rajasekaran, Naveen Gopi Chander, Jetty Ramesh Reddy, Muthukumar Balasubramanium
The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Prosthetic reconstruction of a patient with an irradiated rhinectomy and upper lip resection with a maxillofacial prosthesis and removable complete dentures: A clinical report
Mohammad Jowkar, Farzad Yeganeh, Amirhossein Fathi, Behnaz Ebadian
The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Maxillofacial prosthetic rehabilitation using different retention systems: A review
Riya Susan Mathew, Rohit Raghavan, Shajahan PA
IP Annals of Prosthodontics and Restorative Dentistry. 2022; 8(3): 143
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Prosthetic rehabilitation of an orbital defect post-COVID, mucormycosis – A case report
Maria Jenifer Sabita F X, Shwetha Kumari Poovani, Srilakshmi Jagadeesh, Suguna Priya G
IP Annals of Prosthodontics and Restorative Dentistry. 2022; 8(3): 165
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Application of New Materials in Auditory Disease Treatment
Ming Li, Yurong Mu, Hua Cai, Han Wu, Yanyan Ding
Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. 2022; 15
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Search Strategy
    Other Retention ...
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded2023    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 5    

Recommend this journal