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Cleft

Tooth Care

If you have a cleft you will see a dentist as part of your care. They will help support you in looking after your teeth and give you advice on what you can also do to look after your teeth. 

When will I see a Dentist, Orthodontist or Dental Therapist?

Most 5, 10, 15 & 20 year olds born with Cleft Lip and/or palate will be seen by whole Cleft team at these ages.

The Cleft Paediatric dental consultant will want to look at your teeth and check the health of your teeth and gums. The Cleft Orthodontist Consultant will want to see how your teeth and jaws are growing.

Most Children after 10 years of age are offered some form of brace treatment, if needed, to improve the appearance and bite of the teeth. The consultants may ask you to see the Dental therapist if you need help with tooth cleaning and /or simple dental treatment including fillings.

Outside the Cleft team you should have six monthly dental check-ups, with a general dentist on the high street. This allows the dentist to check health of mouth, gums and teeth. They may take regular x-ray radiographs to look for decay in the teeth and may referral you to the Cleft team if you require specialist treatment.

Why is it important that I look after my teeth?

Nothing is as good as your own teeth. It is important that you take care of your teeth so that you can avoid losing teeth and needing dentures.  All dental decay is preventable, which means with careful diet and good tooth care your teeth can last a lifetime.  We know that people with a cleft are more at risk of dental decay so for you it is especially important to take care of your teeth.

The following can help in looking after your teeth: 

*Brush twice a day with using a Fluoride toothpaste. Ideally last thing at night and at least on one other occasion.

*Spit out after brushing and do not rinse.

*If using a fluoride mouth wash use at a different time of day to tooth brushing.

* Using a single tufted toothbrush or Floss / tape can be useful and the dental team can guide and help you with this.

Dental implants need brushing and same level of maintenance as natural teeth.

Diet can also have an impact; you could try the following to help look after your teeth:

*Snack on safer snacks, sugar -free alternatives, e.g. bread sticks humus, carrot / cucumber sticks, cheese, water or sugar free tea and coffee.

*If having sweet foods try to eat as a pudding or all in one go rather than snacking/grazing.

*Avoid fizzy drinks as this can cause holes in teeth and enamel erosion, causing pain and or sensitivity of the teeth from hot and cold foods or drinks.

*Avoid smoking, this can increase risk of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss and reduce the benefits of dental and surgical treatments.

 *Medications can affect your gum health.

All oral health care advice can be tailored to meet your own individual dental needs, you can talk to either your Cleft dental team or dentist for support.