Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip (cont.)

Dental Care for Children With Cleft Lips and/or Palates

Generally, the preventive and restorative dental care needs of children with clefts are the same as for other children. However, children with cleft lip and cleft palate may have special problems related to missing, malformed, or malpositioned teeth that require close monitoring.

  • Early dental care. Like other children, children born with cleft lip and cleft palate require proper cleaning, good nutrition and fluoride treatment in order to have healthy teeth. Appropriate cleaning with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush should begin as soon as teeth erupt. If a soft children's toothbrush will not adequately clean the teeth because of the modified shape of the mouth and teeth a toothette may be recommended by your dentist. A toothette is a soft, mouthwash-containing sponge on a handle that's used to swab teeth. Many dentists recommend that the first dental visit be scheduled at about 1 year of age or even earlier if there are special dental problems. Routine dental care can begin around 3 years of age.


  • Orthodontic care. A first orthodontic appointment may be scheduled before the child has any teeth. The purpose of this appointment is to assess facial growth, especially jaw development. After teeth erupt, an orthodontist can further assess a child's short and long-term dental needs. After the permanent teeth erupt, orthodontic treatment can be applied to align the teeth.


  • Prosthodontic care. A prosthodontist is a member of the cleft palate team. He or she may make a dental bridge to replace missing teeth or make special appliances called "speech bulbs" or "palatal lifts" to help close the nose from the mouth so that speech sounds more normal. The prosthodontist coordinates treatment with the oral or plastic surgeon and with the speech pathologist.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Elverne M. Tonn, DDS, on February 8, 2009


Last Editorial Review: 2/8/2009

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Source article on WebMD


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