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Dental Care in Children Born with Clefts

Dental care begins when the first tooth erupts.  As soon as the first tooth erupts, it should be gently brushed with water or with a damp cloth after feedings.  Because milk left on the teeth can cause cavities, it is important to not let your child fall asleep with a bottle in his mouth. Babies with clefts usually have all of their baby teeth, but they may be missing some of their permanent teeth.  These missing tooth buds will be identified when your child is older, usually in the pre-school or school-age years through x-rays. Children with clefts that involve the upper gum line often have teeth that are turned or misshapen.  The dental specialist will discuss how these problems can be treated as your child grows.  Often in children with cleft palates, the growth of the lower jaw outpaces the growth of the upper jaw.  This leads to an underbite.  Treatment may require orthodontic care and sometimes a jaw surgery when your child is older.  

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