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Eastman Institute for Oral Health / Patients / Eastman Dental / Cleft and Craniofacial Disorders

Cleft and Craniofacial Disorders

Specialists from Eastman Dental have served children and adults with cleft lip and palate and other craniofacial conditions for more than 50 years. Currently, the Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Center at Golisano Children’s Hospital addresses the complex needs of patients with facial differences by providing team care as recommended by the American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association.

Craniofacial team pediatric dentists work closely with Dr. Clinton Morrison, the team’s pediatric craniofacial plastic surgeon, to prepare infants with cleft lip and palate for their initial lip surgery at around 3 to 5 months of age. Pediatric dentists use a custom fit retainer called a nasoalveolar molding appliance and taping on the baby’s face to align the gum pads inside the baby’s mouth during the first weeks of life. In doing so, the cleft lip deformity is reduced making the initial surgery easier and yielding better cosmetic and functional results for the child.

As the child gets older, he or she attends craniofacial team clinic at least once a year at Golisano Children’s Hospital. While there, a team of professionals examines the child and a roadmap for his or her cleft or craniofacial care is made for the next year. Dr. Renee Roland, the team’s orthodontist, and Lenora Colaruotolo, Eastman Dental social worker, attend the meetings, as many of the dental services provided for these patients are performed by specialists at Eastman Dental.

Children with cleft lip and palate can have significant problems with speech as a result of open holes in the roof of their mouths after earlier corrective surgeries. Sometimes, blockage of those holes using dental retainers is necessary to improve the speech of child preparing for school. Eastman Dental pediatric dentists and prosthodontists receive referrals from providers in Western New York to make these retainers for patients with cleft lip and palate.

Eastman Dental provides routine pediatric dental care and orthodontics for the children attending the team. Dr. Arigo and other craniofacial team affiliated orthodontists supervise treatment in the resident orthodontic clinic. Upper jaw expansion and alignment of teeth using braces and other appliances precede bone grafting procedures which are necessary for many children with cleft lip and palate. In some cases, jaw surgery for teenagers with craniofacial conditions is needed. Eastman Dental orthodontists and oral maxillofacial surgeons play key roles during this phase of surgical repair.

As growth ceases and the adolescent craniofacial patient transitions to adult care, general dentists and prosthodontists at Eastman Dental work together to replace missing teeth using crowns and bridges or in some cases, dental implants.

Eastman Dental truly provides multidisciplinary dental services to patients with cleft lip and palate and craniofacial conditions from infancy through adulthood. If you feel that Eastman Dental can address you or your child’s cleft or craniofacial dental needs, please contact our dental team coordinator, Melisande McCheyne, at (585) 275-1000.

For more information, the Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Center offers a list of online resources for families dealing with craniofacial conditions.