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How a Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate can Impact Dental Health

Cleft LipCleft lips and cleft palates are birth abnormalities of the lip and mouth. In the United States, around 6,800 children are born with cleft lips, palates, or both every year. Cleft lips and palates occur early in your pregnancy. This occurs when the sides of the lip and the roof of the mouth don’t fuse together properly. Children have cleft lips, cleft palates, or both together. Please note that children born with a cleft are usually healthy otherwise and the most common problem associated with a cleft is attempting to feed your baby. 

  • Cleft Palate – This occurs when the roof of your child’s mouth doesn’t close all the way, leaving a large opening that can extend into his or her nasal cavity. The cleft can involve either side of the palate and can extend from the front of the mouth all the way to the throat. 
  • Cleft Lip – A cleft lip occurs when the lip doesn’t form completely during fetal development. The degree of the cleft can vary greatly; from mild (a notch in the lip) to severe (a large opening from the lip that extends up through the nose). 

Cleft Complications 

Aside from appearance, clefts can cause other problems, including the following: 

  • Ear infections and hearing loss – Ear infections are often due to a dysfunction of the tube connecting the middle ear and the throat. If a cleft palate extends to the throat, your child may experience recurrent ear infections, which can lead to hearing loss. 
  • Speech and language delays – Because of the opening in the roof the mouth or the lip, it may be difficult for your child to use the muscles that help with speech. This can cause a lisp or a delay in speech. 
  • Feeding problems – These problems occur more with a cleft palate than a cleft lip. Your baby may be unable to properly such or latch because the roof of the mouth is not completely formed. 
  • Dental problems – Lastly, clefts can cause a multitude of dental problems. Teeth may not erupt normally, and a cleft may affect the alveolar ridge, which is the upper gum and bone that contain the teeth. Teeth may be in the wrong position, incorrectly shaped, or missing entirely. Orthodontic treatment is usually necessary. 

A child with a cleft lip or palate will need a team of healthcare providers. For his or her dental health needs, an oral or maxillofacial surgeon, a pediatric dentist, and an orthodontist will be necessary. 

Here at Endodontic Specialists, we know that a small case of tooth decay can rapidly turn into a tooth infection, for which you may need a root canal. For more information or to make an appointment with a skilled endodontist, please contact Endodontic Specialists today. Our offices are located here in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colorado. 

Posted on Oct 14, 2019

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