A healthy smile can be the first step towards a happy life.
All children deserve access to quality dental care. For children with clefts, the stakes are particularly high. Compared to their peers, children with clefts are more likely to have dental anomalies and malpositioning (including crowding, rotation, or tilting) in both baby and adult teeth, and are at greater risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
It is therefore vital that these children receive dental care services from professionals familiar with their unique needs 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 effects on the nose. If recommended by a surgeon and caregivers agree to the treatment, PSIO is applied when a child is one to six weeks old and continues until they have their first cleft surgery.
PSIO may include taping across the lip, a palate obturator, and/or a device to lift and remodel the nose. It is usually applied by an orthodontist. Caregivers are expected to make daily adjustments at home and bring their child for follow-up on a regular basis. Studies suggest that PSIO improves immediate cleft surgery outcomes and decreases the need for future cleft surgeries.
Children with clefts are often in need of orthodontic services at various stages of development. The exact services required often depends on which surgeries they need. It is also important to note that many experts will reccomend liquid diets during and after orthodontics and surgery, which is why we have "Ongoing Feeding & Nutrition" information and links to helpful recipes below.
Resources For Families
Oral health starts at home. These resources help families better understand and support the unique oral health needs their child may have throughout each stage of their life.