As you may already know, having a cleft affected child means you need to be diligent when it comes to their dental care. It is not uncommon for cleft affected children to be born without some of their permanent teeth so taking care of the teeth they do have is of the utmost importance. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the phrase “where there are teeth, there is bone.” So keeping the teeth your cleft kiddo has, is without a doubt, an important factor in progressing towards the inevitable bone graft surgery.
Finding a dentist that has experience working with cleft affected children is also important as that dentist needs to work with the bigger picture rather than just handle what is going on at that moment. You will hear “where there are teeth, there is bone.” Knowing this means that keeping those teeth intact is IMPORTANT.
When you have your Cleft Palate Team visits one of the team members will most likely be a dentist or an orthodontist. They will explain to you their “dental age” and what the plan will be for their bone graft surgery should that be a surgery your child is going to need.
We live in the South Bay and were lucky enough to be referred to Frank Enriquez, DDS of South Bay Pediatric Dentistry. They are geared completely towards the kids and my son LOVED it there! They were playing games with him, had him watch a video about brushing, and then he had a lesson in brushing. Dr. Frank and his staff had a 360 degree X-ray of our son’s jaw done (which he thought was so cool) and we were able to see his permanent teeth sitting below his other teeth. It gave us a great deal of relief to be able to see all of that and know what to expect.
Remember that early intervention, brushing, and having not only a good dentist but a great one that cares about your kid as if they were his is rare. When you find that “one” keep him! Ours came highly recommended by the staff at the Cleft Palate Center of Providence St. John’s Hospital, Santa Monica (he used to be on the Cleft Palate Team) and his experience with cleft affected children is outstanding. If you are in the area and can get to their office – make an appointment!