In the United States, around one in every 1,700 babies are born with a cleft palate. If your baby was born with a cleft palate, you will already be familiar with the extent of medical assistance your child will need. They might have already had surgery to connect the applicable muscles of their cleft palate along with the rearrangement of the surrounding soft tissues to close the cleft. Additional surgeries might be needed later as your child grows. Your child's dental health will also need to be addressed, and dentists will need to perform a number of procedures, depending on your child's dental abnormalities. What can dentists actually do to treat the dental problems associated with a cleft palate?
There are a number of dental problems that can be caused by a cleft palate, and your child might have several dental irregularities that need to be corrected. Their alveolar bone (the dense bone ridge that houses their dental sockets) might not develop correctly, leading to teeth that fail to develop in the correct alignment. Or certain teeth might not develop at all. Additionally, their teeth might not grow to full size, and extra teeth can sometimes develop.
Baby Teeth and Adult Teeth
Your dentist will assess just what treatment is needed. This is often dealt with in two separate stages, covering your child's baby teeth and adult teeth. Although orthodontic treatment is usually reserved for adult teeth, your child might require early orthodontic treatment to reposition their teeth, ensuring full functionality. This doesn't necessarily mean that your child will need braces, although this might be suggested when your child's adult teeth begin to emerge. Your child might require a palatal expander while they have baby teeth.
A more permanent solution becomes available once your child's baby teeth are shed and their adult teeth begin to emerge. This is when braces might be suggested to correct the alignment of their teeth. Any extra teeth can be surgically extracted, and any missing teeth can be replaced (ideally with a dental implant). If their adult teeth fail to grow to full size, they can have their bulk increased by dental bonding (building up the teeth using a composite dental resin) or with dental crowns. If their alveolar bone failed to develop correctly, bone grafting may be recommended to ensure full functionality of your child's adult teeth.
Correcting the dental issues associated with a cleft palate can take several years, requiring several different forms of treatment, but it's certainly an achievable goal.
For more information about dental issues and solutions that come with a cleft palate, talk to dentists in your area.