A cleft lip and/or palate can significantly impact a child’s oral health, leading to unique dental challenges. Beyond being a cosmetic issue, this condition can affect primary (baby) teeth’s eruption, and alignment of permanent teeth, and pose a higher risk of dental problems. Thus, Dr Mark Austin North Carolina believes that understanding these issues is important for the provision of comprehensive oral care.
Clefts can interfere with normal dental development and alignment. Children with clefts often have missing, extra, malformed, or displaced teeth, especially near the cleft area. They may have a higher incidence of dental crowding and malocclusion (abnormal alignment of teeth and bite).
Increased Risk of Decay
Children with clefts also have an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease because teeth close to the cleft can be difficult to clean effectively. This risk is further acetified due to enamel defects and higher levels of oral bacteria commonly found in cleft-affected children.
And lastly, in some cases, children with cleft conditions can struggle with their speech. This is because the cleft can impede the appropriate development and functioning of the oral cavity, impacting voice articulation.
Managing Dental Challenges: A Multidisciplinary Approach
• Regular Dental Check-ups – Routine dental care helps in the early detection and management of dental problems. Prophylactic fluoride treatments and dental sealants might be suggested by the dentist to protect teeth from decay.
• Orthodontic Treatment – Orthodontic treatments may be necessary to correct misaligned teeth and establish a proper bite. This typically begins in early childhood even before the permanent teeth erupt.
• Oral Surgery – Oral and maxillofacial surgeons help in managing skeletal discrepancies. Surgical procedures might also be required to extract supernumerary teeth or to aid in the eruption of impacted teeth.
• Proactive Oral Care – At home, maintaining regular brushing and flossing habits is crucial. This can be challenging in the presence of a cleft, and some children might require assistance but, over time, with the right tools and techniques, they can learn to manage their oral health Dr Mark Austin North Carolina.