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What is Craniofacial Orthodontics?

Craniofacial Orthodontics is the sub-specialty of orthodontics that focuses on the treatment of patients with facial differences such as cleft lip and palate. These conditions often require a coordinated craniofacial orthodontic and surgical treatment in a team setting to achieve best results.

Orthodontic treatments for patients born with facial differences tend to be more complex than ordinary orthodontics. The multidisciplinary treatment often starts from birth and extends to the late teen years. Dr. Hosseinian works closely with various specialists on the Carilion Clinic Medical Center faculty including a craniofacial surgeon, pediatrician, geneticist, neurosurgeon, ENT, speech and language therapist, pediatric dentist, oral surgeon, and prosthodontist to provide optimal care to the patient. There are many reasons to seek treatment beyond the aesthetic as birth defects can lead to further complications including:

  • Difficulty Eating – When there is a separation or opening in the palate, food and liquids can pass from the mouth back through the nose. While waiting for surgery, patients can use specially designed prosthetics to help keep fluids flowing downward towards the stomach, ensuring that they receive adequate nutrition.

  • Speech Difficulties – Because the upper lip and palate are not properly formed, it may be difficult for children to speak clearly, and when they do, it may produce a nasal sound. As speech may be hard to understand, a speech pathologist may be used to resolve these issues.

  • Ear Infections – Cleft lip and palate can lead to a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, leaving children at a higher risk for ear infections, and if not properly treated, even deafness. To prevent infections, small tubes may be placed in the eardrums to facilitate fluid drainage.

  • Dental Problems – Children who suffer from cleft lip and palate also often have missing, malformed, or displaced teeth, leading to a higher number of cavities and other dental and orthodontic issues.


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