Orthodontics and Cleft Lip/Palate


Anchor lead: An orthodontist may be the first specialist for an infant with cleft lip/palate, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Infants born with cleft lip and/or palate can benefit greatly by early intervention from an orthodontist, the team at Johns Hopkins has found. Ilana Ickow, a Hopkins orthodontist who specializes in treatment of babies with the conditions, describes first steps.

Ickow: When a baby is born with cleft lip and palate a process called nasoalveolar molding or NAM for short is done and an appliance that looks like a retainer is used to make the gum segments in the mouth closer together. It also moves the lip segments closer together. This process is started within the first few days of life and can last three to six months depending on the severity of the cleft. The goal is to give the mouth and the nose a more normal anatomy, to give the surgeon a better starting point for surgery.   :30

Ickow says babies are also fed with a special bottle during this time. She notes that using the appliance also helps both mouth and nose achieve a more symmetrical position. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.