Robin Yang leads the Johns Hopkins Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Dentistry through growth and change.
For decades, Johns Hopkins’ Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Dentistry has filled a crucial role within the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. The team of surgeons, endodontists, periodontists, and dentists perform complex maxillofacial reconstructions for patients treated for cancer, trauma and congenital defects; surgery to help with conditions such as sleep apnea; and general dentistry for Johns Hopkins faculty and staff, as well as the Baltimore community. Now, under the leadership of Robin Yang, the division continues to grow, moving into new space and increasing its number of team members. The aim: to better serve even more patients.
“We have an important niche in treating the oral cavity, doing our best to ensure that patients have the form and function needed to feel whole. By constantly innovating, we are able to do what we do best even better,” Yang says.
Yang, who has training in dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, general surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and craniofacial surgery, became the division director in 2021. Since then, he has instituted a closer working relationship with his colleagues within the division, others in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, and other specialty areas, such as neurosurgery. The division runs a multidisciplinary case conference to discuss patients that need complex oral rehabilitation, and they’re a frequent presence at tumor board, ensuring that patients who need head and neck surgeries or radiation that involves the oral cavity have as few complications as possible — and that reconstruction is a consideration from the start.
Yang and his division colleagues also take part in a multidisciplinary clinic for patients who need dentistry, oral or maxillofacial surgery, or complex craniofacial reconstruction. To facilitate this care, the division recently moved to the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Clinic (JHOC), allowing Yang and his colleagues to easily visit with other Otolaryngology–Head and Neck specialists and their patients. The new space is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment, including various imaging modalities. Having this dedicated area also allows the team to provide regular dental care for Johns Hopkins faculty and staff, who can schedule a visit on the East Baltimore campus during the workday.
To help accommodate more patients, the division recently brought on Ghassan Sinada, a prosthodontist and former Johns Hopkins faculty member. Sinada, who has expertise in complex reconstructions after tumor resections, serves as part of the weekly multidisciplinary clinic.
The group also continues to advance patient care with research — recently publishing a study on the carbon footprint of 3D printing for craniomaxillofacial surgery. Other recent studies focused on the role of mentorship and socioeconomic factors in plastic surgery residency matches, factors that affect outcomes in pediatric orthognathic surgery, and the effect of socioeconomic status on orbital floor reconstruction.
“Often, when patients come to our division for care, they have exhausted all other care options. It’s on us and our team to provide the final intervention to get them the best outcome. To provide the best possible care, now and in the future, is what drives me to keep pushing the agenda,” Yang says.