Nasal Alveolar Molding
Prior to cleft lip surgery, some babies will benefit from orthodontic treatment to guide the growth of the mouth in the right direction, eventually aiding in the correction process. This technique is called nasal alveolar molding (NAM) and is usually started during the first two weeks of the baby's life and can last up to six months. NAM optimizes the initial surgical result and may even minimize the need for later "touch-up" surgery.
Dr. Erin Shope, our team’s pediatric dentist, is one of the few providers in the Upstate New York region uniquely trained in this technique. NAM 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 offer this to the families served by the Golisano Children's Hospital Cleft and Craniofacial Center.
To begin this treatment, Dr. Shope 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 can make it significantly easier for the baby to eat. Once the gum line is in closer approximation, a nasal extension is added to help reshape the form of the nose. This technique is especially important for children with bilateral clefts of the lip and palate.