The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of oral rehabilitation in a group of patients who had primary resection of oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Of 132 consecutive patients operated on for previously untreated disease between January 1995 and June 1997, 130 were recruited. The University of Washington Quality of Life questionnaire was completed on the day before operation at 6 and 12 months, and at last review. A larger similar dataset was used to predict survival. Twenty-eight patients (22%) were seen by the oral rehabilitation team. The median (IQR) time from operation to start of treatment was 12 months (6–21). The median (IQR) time from beginning to end of rehabilitation was 14 months (5–49). Patients with larger tumours (P = 0.06) and patients who were edentulous with dentures in the maxilla (P = 0.07) were most likely to be seen for oral rehabilitation.