Approximately one in 700 babies is born with a cleft lip and/or palate. Clefts occur in all races and in both sexes. These children usually have a variety of healthcare needs that are best managed by an interdisciplinary team. Children's Hospital has a dedicated Craniofacial Team to help oversee treatment for children born with oral-facial clefts and other craniofacial anomalies.
Children's Craniofacial Team include plastic surgeons, otolaryngologists, dentists/orthodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, speech therapists, a geneticist, a nurse practitioner, a nurse and a team coordinator. Other specialists that may be consulted include neurosurgeons, audiologists, social workers, dieticians, ophthalmologists, psychologists, and pediatricians.
The team's function is to develop a comprehensive plan of care and assure that all services and treatments are implemented in a coordinated manner. Children are evaluated on an annual basis in the Cleft Palate/Craniofacial Clinic. The plan of care is reviewed and updated based on a child's growth and development.
• Why is it important for the child to be seen by a dentist/orthodontist?
Children born with a cleft lip and/or palate most likely will require extensive dental and orthodontic treatment throughout their childhood. Teeth may grow in abnormal positions such as in the roof of the mouth, be oddly shaped, or be missing entirely. A bone graft is performed to close the gap in their gums. This procedure is done, depending on dental development, between the ages of six to nine years. Dental implants are done to replace missing teeth. The dental and orthodontic process is very lengthy, therefore, it is essential that children are followed regularly so the treatment plan in not interrupted.
• Presurgical Orthodontic/Orthopedic Treatment of Children with Cleft Lip and Palate
Throughout the history of cleft lip and palate treatment, there have been constant concerns about the timing of surgical procedures as well as the use of orthopedic appliances and their effect on growth and development. Those concerns include:
During the past 34 years, the Craniofacial clinic at Columbus Children's Clinic has attempted to sort through these concerns in search of finding a method with the following goals: