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When designing the Voutia system, our primary goal was to address the issue of dry mouth.  It is one of the chief complaints reported of patients suffering the after effects of head and neck radiation treatments as well Sjogren's disease .  Additionally, dentists treating these patient have found that a myriad of complications arise once the mouth becomes dry. Among more common of these are:
  • Increased dental decay
  • Opportunistic infections
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Burning sensations on the tongue
  •  Decreased taste perception

To understand why these issues arise, it is important to understand that our saliva glands are quite complex organs.  Analysis of saliva has shown that it is 98% water.  But, it is the other 2% that make it so complex.  The salivary glands also secrete electrolytes and proteins at different rates and amounts depending on the time of day.  Logically, if the onset of the complications listed above become more prominent without saliva, it is reasonable to assume that replacing it should help reduce or eliminate them. 
Virginia Head and Neck Therapeutics, Inc. hopes that once we are through the FDA clearance process these issues can be studied.  Only unbiased clinical research and evaluation will give us the answer.  Until then, we can say that user feedback has confirmed relief from the feeling of the dryness, better sleep and reportedly a significant improvement in their quality of life.

While researching and developing the Voutia system, Dr. Cash was intrigued by the numerous investigational opportunities that could be undertaken.  In addition to comfort and improving the quality of a user's life, Dr. Cash is hopeful this could be a new tool to not only replace moisture, but also help deliver specific solutions and medications under precise control to address:

Dental Decay:  There have been several studies performed to evaluate the effects to commercially available saliva substitutes on early decay with some surprising results.  Some of these solutions have actually remineralized the enamel!  Imagine if we could develop a predictable formula that would reliably do this for high risk people!  Using a controlled delivery system like Voutia could potentially help this become a reality!
Meyer-Lueckel, Schulte-Monting, J, Kielbassa, AM. The Effects of Commercially Available Substitutes on Predemineralized Bovine Dentin IN Vitro. ORAL DISEASE, JUL, 8(4);192-198.
Ira L. Shannon, DMD, MSD, John N. Trodahl DDS, MSD, Edgar N.Starcke DDS; Cancer, Volume 41, Issue 5, May 1978, pages 1746-1750

Hydration:  Proper hydration of the body is essential for it to work well.  It is recommended that we consume 2 to 3 liters of water on a daily basis depending on individual needs.  When the Voutia system is used during the waking hours, its maximum setting is 0.9 ml/min.  That adds over 1/2 a liter of water consumption for an individual without having to actively drink from another source.

Wound Healing:  After oral or periodontal surgery, keeping the surgical site clean from plaque and debris is important for healing.  Potentially, our system offers the controlable delivery of medicinal agents and/or a sterile water/saline bathing of a wound or graft site.  By using a custom guided surgical stint, practitioners could easily direct desired fluids to specific areas.  Investigation of this as a benefit would be a welcome venture.

Replacement of a Damaged Salivary Gland System:  As designed, the Voutia System uses tubing that meets or exceeds FDA standards for biocompatibility.  In addition, the tubings meet USP Class VI criteria and qualify for implantation.  Dr. Cash postulates that with proper investigation and a skilled surgical team, patients undergoing a radical neck dissection proceedures could potentially have tubings placed to cannulate the salivary gland ducts.  If an external or internal port could be placed outside of the intended radiation fields, then these patients could immediately tap into it and begin fluid supplementation at the first signs of dry mouth.
As is well documented in the dental literature, radiation decay becomes a serious concern when these patients finish treatment.  As more tooth structure becomes damaged, eventually many people must resort to an extraction. 
Since the healing in the radiation fields have been compromised by scarring from treatment, most people undergoing oral surgical proceedures require Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment to reduce the risk of Osteoradionecrosis if bone cannot heal properly.  This tragic situation can result in major disfigurement for people and can be very difficult to control.