Craniofacial conditions are conditions involving the skull and/or the facial structure. These conditions are quite serious and you should definitely contact your dentist for more information if you have one of them. The most common craniofacial conditions is a cleft palate and lip. As always, dentistry is always expanding and evolving. Craniofacial disorders are being researched by many universities and the techniques used to treat them are becoming more and more successful.
Cleft Palate and Lips
This condition is mainly only found in children, because it is something you are born with and it can be treated from a young age. Clefts are gaps found in the lips or palate, and sometimes both. It can prove a big problem when babies suffer from this because they may need special bottles for feeding and can only be fed whilst being held. This problem can actually lead to underweight babies because they are getting insufficient nutrients. The causes of this craniofacial disorder may be from environmental factors such as pollution as well as tobacco and other drugs. Studies also suggest that it can be carried in the genes.
So why is this a serious thing? Children with cleft palates or cleft lips suffer from speech impediments. There is a possibility that even after the surgery they may still battle with speaking clearly. Craniofacial dentistry is expanding and is remarkable, but it does not perform miracles: the child may suffer from dental cavities and middle ear infections.
Treatment can often be done before the child turn one. The treatment is performed by a surgeon and it varies from person to person. If the child has both a cleft lip and cleft palate then it will most likely take place in two separate surgeries. These problems may come back later in life and it may call for another surgery. A fistula – a gap formed after a cleft palate surgery – may form and then a bone graft may be needed to permanently close the cleft. It is often the case that after suffering from a cleft palate, the patient might need to get their teeth realigned. Dental care is very important for someone who was born with a cleft palate because they are prone to dental problems in the future – their teeth can break and cavities can develop.
So it is clear, children that are born with cleft palates or cleft lips need serious dental care and attention. The surgery can be performed when the infant is only 3-5 months old. Because there are many complications that can occur after the treatment, the child needs to be well looked after. Problems with oral health and speech may occur later on in the child’s life. Finding a dentist you love and trust to guide you through the processes as your child gets older is quite important. Whether you are a parent of a craniofacial patient or you are one yourself, you can thank the advancements in dentistry: They have made it possible to lead a normal life despite these craniofacial disorders.