Skip to content
left end
left end
right end

Dental care

Children with a cleft lip and /or palate have been shown to develop tooth decay more easily than other children. We are not sure why this is. It may be because the teeth can be quite close together and more difficult to clean.

Parents may feel anxious brushing in the cleft site or where the child has recently had an operation.  Some children may find it more challenging to clear food from their mouths with their tongue; it could also be related to the type of bacteria in their mouths.

Everyone should be registered with a family dentist, General Dental Practitioner (GDP). Engaging your child from early years in regular visits helps acclimatize them to the dental environment and allows everyone to understand the importance of good dental health from birth onwards. It is important to understand the foods and drinks in your child's diet which are harmful to teeth and restrict the frequency of these. It is important to have a good daily tooth brushing routine, using a fluoride tooth paste which is age appropriate

The SW Cleft team includes dental health professionals that can support and guide you and your child through their dental care and assess your child's dental health at multidisciplinary clinics from birth to adulthood.

Paediatric dentistry

As part of the South West Cleft Service at Bristol Dental Hospital, we have a consultant paediatric dentist who supports the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry's 'Dental Check by 1' initiative and advises that children are seen for their first dental check by 12 months of age. This is to offer dental health advice, preventive treatment and a referral to other services if required. Routine dental care should be undertaken by the child's general dentist where possible. Please do not hesitate to contact the cleft team for further information.  

Dental Care Professionals (DCP's)

Dental care professionals, including a dental therapist, dental hygienist and dental nurses all offer oral health advice, prevention and some treatment on prescription from dentists. You will see the dental nurses regularly when attending appointments with the dental staff, and on a number of outpatient clinics, with cleft team specialties, including coffee mornings & babble groups.

A dental therapist in collaboration with the dentist may see your child to provide some dental treatment and caries prevention advice in a setting where we can offer more time.

Dental hygienist helps by looking at gum health and will give you and your child specific advice on all aspects of mouth care, regarding diet and brushing, especially before and after cleft operations.


A consultant orthodontist will see you and your child from an early age to monitor and review the development of teeth and jaws including taking dental impressions, radiographs and sometimes photographs. The orthodontist will discuss with you treatment options relating to the irregularities of the teeth and jaws, this will include the use of braces, you may be required to attend clinic appointments with other specialties including cleft surgeons, restorative dental consultants, and other cleft specialties, to discuss all options prior to making any decisions.

Links to dental health websites;

Orthodontic/Dental care

The NHS supports a tooth brushing App that can help you stay motivated. It is free, evidenced based and suitable for all ages. BRUSH DJ App store

The main things to remember are:

-        Brush twice a day for two minutes

-        Spit the toothpaste out rather than rinse

-        Use a Fluoride toothpaste suitable for the age of the adult/child

-        Place half of the bristles on your gum, half on your tooth and brush in circles wherever possible

-        If your gums bleed, concentrate more on those areas as it is a sign that they are unhealthy

-        Change your toothbrush regularly

-        Aim to clean every surface of every tooth, every day

-        Use interdental aids such as floss or bottle brushes daily, as recommended

-        Try to keep a routine

-        Reduce sugary foods and drinks. Visit

-        Consider using the free food scanner app