What Is a Cleft Palate and Does It Affect the Teeth?

Many children born with a cleft lip or palate will have significant dental issues. If this is the case with your child, The Dental Anesthesia Center can help.

They may have missing teeth, especially in the line of the cleft. They may also have misshapen or malformed or extra teeth. As a result, their teeth may be tilted, rotated, or crowded.

A child with a cleft lip or palate needs a team of doctors to care for their needs. They’ll likely need an oral surgeon, a pediatric dentist, and an orthodontist for their dental care. If this is the case with your child, The Dental Anesthesia Center can help. We provide dental care for children and adults with special needs.

What Is a Cleft Lip and Palate?

A cleft lip and palate are congenital abnormalities that form while a baby develops in the uterus. They occur when the tissues of the upper lip and roof of the mouth don’t join together correctly while the baby is developing in the womb. Surgery is required to repair a cleft lip and palate.

Cleft Lip:

During weeks four and seven of pregnancy, a baby’s lips form. Tissues from each side of the head join together at the center of the face to create our lips and mouth. A cleft lip develops when the tissues don’t join together properly. As a result, a gap forms between the two sides of the upper lip. A cleft ranges in size from a slight indentation to a large gap that opens to the nose. This separation can also include the roof of the mouth (the palate.)

Cleft Palate:

During weeks six and nine of pregnancy, the roof of the mouth, or palate, forms. A cleft palate is a split in the roof of the mouth. It can include the boney front part of the roof of the mouth or the soft palate, which is the delicate back part of the roof of the mouth.

Because the lips and mouth develop separately, it’s possible to have a:

  • Cleft palate without a cleft lip
  • Cleft lip without a cleft palate
  • Both a cleft lip and palate – this is the most frequent

Does a Cleft Lip or Palate Affect the Teeth?

Yes, children born with a cleft lip or palate are prone to dental issues such as cavities and missing and malformed teeth. The teeth may not erupt correctly or be in the wrong positions, misshapen, or missing altogether. Consistent exposure to the air can cause dry mouth, allowing bacteria to flourish. Oral surgery, orthodontic and dentistry care are all necessary.

How Can You Help Your Child Maintain Good Oral Hygiene?

It’s essential to begin good oral healthcare habits very young. This is true for everyone, so it’s necessary for those with special needs. Visiting the dentist for regular checkups is also essential. For a child with a cleft palate, we recommend bringing them in well before their first birthday. Your dentist can advise how to best care for your child’s specific needs.

Call Us Today

The Only Board Certified Dental Anesthesiologist in Missouri, including the St. Louis Metro Area.

Call (314) 862-7844
Updated: February 1, 2023

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