Dental and Orthodontics Care

Access to cleft-specialized dental care ensures good oral hygiene and a lifetime of smiles.

cleft patient brushes teeth

Dental Care

Children with clefts need specialized dental services and equipment. They are much more likely than their non-cleft-affected peers to suffer crooked teeth, gum disease, and tooth decay, even after surgery.

Because children with clefts have unique oral health needs, it is important that they receive dental care services from professionals familiar with clefts and that their caregivers are closely involved. If their susceptibility to decay is ignored, they may end up losing teeth at an early age, causing further complications with everything from chewing, speaking, and sleeping to self-esteem. It can even jeopardize the success of future cleft surgeries.

Pre-surgical Infant Orthopedics

Often referred to as PSIO or NAM (naso-alveolar molding), this treatment may be recommended for children with moderate to severe clefts because it has the potential to decrease the cleft’s size and its effect on the nose. If recommended by a surgeon, and if caregivers agree to the treatment, PSIO are applied when a child is one to six weeks old and continue until the first cleft surgery is completed.

PSIO may include taping across the lip, a palate obturator, and/or a device to lift and remodel the nose. They are usually applied by an orthodontist. Caregivers should make daily adjustments at home and bring their child for follow-up on a regular basis. Studies suggest that PSIO improve immediate cleft surgery outcomes and decrease the need for future cleft surgeries.

Orthodontic Care

Children with clefts often need orthodontic services. Cleft orthodontics is focused on aligning teeth, monitoring facial growth, and straightening bites. It may be required at various stages of development based on the surgical procedures the child needs. Since many cleft orthodontists will recommend liquid diets during and after orthodontics and surgery, we made an "Ongoing Feeding & Nutrition" page with information and links to helpful recipes.