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A cleft lip and palate often create problems with the upper jaw
and teeth. This problem can almost always be solved over time by
treatment from skilled pediatric dentist. A baby with cleft may
have trouble with feeding and may need a feeding appliance,
(obturator) this is a plastic device that fits over the roof of
the mouth and acts as a palate. It helps your baby create suction
for feeding and prevents most food from coming out through the
nose and it also helps maintain the arch of the alveolus (gums).
Usually, it is worn until the palate is repaired. The dentist
will take care of the oral/dental hygiene for several years until
it is time for alveolar bone graft (please see surgeries). Quite
often, child's upper jaw must be expanded before a bone graft may
be done. Your child will be referred to the Orthodontist that can
make an expansion device. The Orthodontist will also study
x-rays, photographs and models of your child's mouth and will
make a treatment plan that is best for your child's needs. Your
child will likely be fitted with braces. This phase of treatment
usually takes two to three years.