Cleft lip & palate
What is oral cleft?
Oro-facial clefts are birth defects in which there is an opening in the lip and/or palate (roof of the mouth) that is caused by incomplete development during fetal formation. It occurs in about 1 or 2 of every 1,000 babies born in the United States each year. It considers one of the most common major birth defects.
The good news is that both cleft lip and cleft palate are treatable. Most kids born with these can have surgery to repair these defects within the first 12-18 months of life.
How does oral clefts affect my child teeth?
A cleft of the lip, gum (alveolus), and/or palate in the front of the mouth can produce a variety of dental problems. These may involve the number, size, shape, and position of both the baby teeth and the permanent teeth. The teeth most common problem is mal-aligned teeth, which make cleaning this area difficult; therefore these teeth are at high risk to develop dental decay.
How does the oral care for a child with oral cleft differ from the regular oral care of other children?
Because children born with oral cleft are at high risk to develop tooth decay, the dentist will decide to see your child more often than other children. That is more likely to be 4 times a year.
As a parent of a child with oral cleft, what should I do to protect my child teeth?
With early dental care, which includes proper cleaning, good nutrition, and fluoride treatment.
- Appropriate cleaning with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush should begin as soon as teeth erupt (see oral care section).
- Adhering to regular dental visits suggested by your child dentist (see regular oral care visits).
- Visiting the dentist in case of any unexpected development.
How can I get the best care for my child?
Children with cleft lip and/or palate require the coordinated services of a number of specialists. Such care is available in a cleft palate or craniofacial treatment centres. At such centre, evaluation, treatment planning, and care are provided by an experienced, multidisciplinary team composed of at lease a orthodontist, paediatric dentist, plastic surgeon, speech therapist, psychologist and ENT specialist.