CLEFT LIP AND PALATE – Dental and Orthodontic Considerations

We are super excited to have Dr. Anika Rodgers on our team! Along with working at Heights Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Dr. Rodgers also works at Texas Children’s Hospital as a Craniofacial Orthodontist in the Plastic Surgery department. As a member of the cleft and craniofacial team, Dr. Rodgers helps to treat patients born with a variety of facial abnormalities including cleft lip and palate, hemifacial microsomia, Crouzon Syndrome, Apert syndrome and Pierre Robin Sequence. As a craniofacial orthodontist she is also trained in NasoAlveolar Molding (NAM) and begins to work with patients born with cleft lip and palate as early as one week of age. In conjunction with the other specialists on the cleft and craniofacial team, she is able to manage the orthodontic needs of patients born with craniofacial abnormalities from the time of birth up through adulthood. 

In orthodontics we treat many patients with an array of different misalignments of the teeth. We often treat kids with complex medical and dental needs as well. Cleft lip and palate can be one of those complex treatments. A cleft occurs when certain structures do not fuse together during fetal development. Clefts can involve the lip, the palate, or both lip and the palate. A cleft lip presents as an opening of the lip on one side or both sides of the face and depending on how severe the cleft is, it may extend up into the nose. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth, known as the palate. The average incidence of cleft lip and palate is 1:750 births. 

Of the different variations of cleft lip and cleft palate, each individual cleft is treated in its own unique way both surgically and orthodontically. One of the main dental issues with having a cleft is the possibility of missing teeth in the area of the cleft. The common tooth to be missing in the region of the cleft is the lateral incisor. This orthodontic challenge can be overcome with the use of braces either closing the space or making room to replace that missing tooth with a future bridge or implant. 

Another issue in patients with cleft lip/palate is that teeth could erupt (come into the mouth) in inappropriate locations. Teeth can be misaligned, rotated and even blocked out and unable to erupt. This can cause problems with brushing, and maintaining excellent oral hygiene becomes a challenge. Team approach between an orthodontist and a pediatric dentist is extremely important in upholding excellent oral health in these patients. Our HPD&O team is excited to have both orthodontists and pediatric dentists here to provide the best and most efficient treatment for our patients. If you have any questions regarding treating dentally complex patients please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Dr. Rodgers, Dr. Darsey, Dr. Lindhorst, Dr. Theriot and our Heights Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics Team