The Facial Growth Pattern and the Amount of Palatal Bone Deficiency Relative to Cleft Size Should Be Considered in Treatment Planning

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The aim of this study is to determine the best surgical/orthodontic treatment plan for the complete bilateral and unilateral cleft lip and palate patient to achieve all treatment goals of facial aesthetics, speech, dental function, and psychosocial development.


Review of 40 years of serial complete bilateral cleft lip and palate and complete unilateral cleft lip and palate dental casts and photographs from birth to adolescence, with serial cephs starting at 4 years. This was part of a multicenter international 3-dimensional palatal growth study of serial dental casts of patients who developed good speech, occlusion, and facial growth.


Nasoalveolar molding and gingivoperiosteoplasty were introduced without proven longitudinal benefits. The procedure bodily retruded the premaxilla, which “telescoped” backward causing synostosis at the premaxillary vomerine suture. The resulting midfacial recessiveness with an anterior dental crossbite can only be corrected by midfacial protraction or a Le Fort I surgery.


Staged orthodontic/surgical treatment limiting premaxillary retraction forces to lip adhesion or forces that cause only premaxillary ventroflexion produce the best results. The palatal cleft should be closed between 18 and 24 months when the ratio of the cleft to the palatal size medial to the alveolar ridge is at least 10%. The protruding premaxilla should only be ventroflexed but never bodily retruded. The facial growth pattern and degree of palatal bone deficiency are the main items to be considered in treatment planning.

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