Dental procedures have been developed to address virtually every type of dental issue imaginable, but some dental conditions are more severe than others. Therefore, they might require more attention and more involved procedures in order to address them. An example of one such condition is that of a cleft palate.
What Is Cleft Palate?
A cleft palate occurs where there isn’t enough tissue inside the mouth to cause the entire area to close together properly. When a patient has a cleft palate, the top of his or her palate has a separation between it. This split or opening in the roof of the mouth can involve the bony front portion of the mouth, also known as the hard palate, or the soft back portion of the palate, also known as the soft palate. In some instances, it can even involve both. A cleft palate is a result of a malformation that occurs in the very early stages of pregnancy, and the exact cause of it is unknown, and it cannot be prevented. Some scientists theorize that the causes of the condition are a combination of both environmental and genetic factors, and studies show that there tends to be a higher possibility of a baby being born with a cleft palate if one of his or her parents, siblings or relatives has one. However, sometimes the condition is believed to be caused by certain medications that the mother took during her pregnancy.
How Cleft Palate Affects Dental Care
People who have a cleft palate tend to suffer from more cavities and other dental issues. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is because people who have cleft palates have an alveolar ridge defect, which means that the bony part of the upper gum is not properly formed. This can lead to several dental issues that can cause permanent teeth to become rotated or otherwise displaced and that can also prevent permanent teeth from coming in completely. Fortunately, there are dental procedures that can help people with cleft palates achieve healthy teeth.
Dental Procedures for Cleft Palate
Because children with cleft palates have such complicated issues, they are usually treated by a team of experts. Some of the professionals on this team might include dentists, orthodontists and oral surgeons. All the members of the team work together to bring each of their specialties into unison in order to development the most effective treatment plan for the patient. Effective treatment for children with cleft palates usually begins in early infancy and carries on into their early adulthood.
The most common treatment for cleft palates includes numerous oral surgeries. It’s not uncommon for patients with cleft palates to have to undergo multiple procedures by the age of 18 in order to effectively address all the conditions of their afflictions. In fact, the first surgical attempt taken to close the cleft palate is usually conducted when the infant is anywhere from a half a year to a year old. This first surgery is important because it helps create a palate that will at least be functional and help aid in the proper development of the child’s facial bones, hearing and other vital functions.
The next surgery, a bone graft, usually occurs anywhere from the time the child is between 8 and 10 years old. Not all children with cleft palate require this second surgery, but some might. Children who don’t have enough bone developing in their upper gums to stabilize their jaws and support their teeth are the ones who frequently have to undergo this procedure. After this second large procedure, most children with cleft palates will have to undergo orthodontic care and wear braces and other orthodontic appliances to help their teeth and jaws develop appropriately. Some might even require additional oral surgeries and dental monitoring to help improve the appearances of their facial features.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Facts about cleft lip and cleft palate” Retrieved on March 3, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/cleftlip.html.
Cleft Palate Foundation. “Dental care for a child with cleft lip or palate.” Retrieved on March 3, 2016, from http://www.cleftline.org/parents-individuals/publications/dental-care-for-a-child-with-cleft-lip-and-palate/.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30329-4027
Cleft Palate Foundation
1504 East Franklin Street
Chapell Hill, NC 27514-2820