Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Anomalies Center

Nasal Alveolar Molding

Newborn with cleft lip and cleft palatePrior to surgery to repair a cleft lip, some patients will require orthodontic treatment in order to guide the growth of the mouth in the right direction, eventually aiding in the correction process. This technique is called nasal alveolar molding, and is usually started during the first two weeks of a baby's life and can last up to six months.

To begin this treatment, our pediatric dentist, inserts a custom-fitted denture (molding plate) into the baby's mouth. Every week, careful adjustments to this molding plate gradually reshape the roof of the mouth and gum lines. The plate causes the bones of the upper jaw to grow toward each other rather than to grow farther apart. It also provides a barrier between the mouth and nose, which are open to each other in babies with cleft lip and palate. This can make it significantly easier for the baby to eat.

infant after cleft lip and cleft palate repair Infant undergoing nasal alveolar molding for cleft palate

Once the gum line is in closer approximation, a nasal extension is added that raises up from the forward edge of the molding plate and lifts the nose and nasal cartilages into place. This technique is especially important for children with bilateral clefts of the lip and palate. Effective application of this technique optimizes the initial surgical results and may even minimize the need for later "touch-up" surgery.

Dr. Erin Shope is one of the few providers in the Upstate New York region uniquely trained in this new technique. Nasoalveolar molding is a non-surgical, passive method of bringing the gum and lip together by re-directing the forces of natural growth. It is non-painful, and relatively easy to use. This technique is becoming the "gold standard" for cleft lip repair, and we are proud to be able to bring this technique to the families served by the Golisano Children's Hospital Cleft and Craniofacial Center.

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