Treatment for cleft lip and palate?

Our daughter was born with a bilateral cleft palate and unilateral cleft lip. She has had three surgeries since she was three months old. She sees a pediatric dental unit in a nearby children's hospital every six months. When her permanent teeth come in and there are teeth missing where her cleft was, is there some way of replacing these teeth so she will have a natural look like other kids her age?

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Yes, it will be possible to replace the missing teeth caused by the clefting of the lip and palate. At first, you may want to place some type of appliance with teeth attached to improve esthetics and phonetics. Orthodontics may be required to achieve proper function and esthetics before extensive dental restorative treatment is accomplished. If you have not consulted with an orthodontist already, I recommend you do so. It is possible an orthodontic appliance can incorporate prosthetic teeth while performing its function. If not, you may want to consider some type of removable appliance to replace her missing teeth until a more permanent restoration can be completed. Once her teeth and jaws have matured, fixed bridges or implants could be considered to replace the missing teeth. Some patients who were born with cleft lip and cleft palate are good candidates for implants.

Cleft lip and palate are relatively common human congenital malformations. Cleft lip occurs in approximately 1 out of 1,000 births and cleft palate alone occurs in approximately 1 out of 2,500 births. As you know, treatment for this condition requires attention by a team of various health professionals. I commend you for investigating future treatment options now. Your careful planning will insure that your daughter leads a happy, healthy life!

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