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
- 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, 2009Last Editorial Review: 2/8/2009
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