Presurgical Nasoalveolar Molding for Cleft Lip and Palate: The Application of Digitally Designed Molds

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The authors present a novel nasoalveolar molding protocol by prefabricating sets of nasoalveolar molding appliances using three-dimensional technology.


Prospectively, 17 infants with unilateral complete cleft lip and palate underwent the authors’ protocol before primary cheiloplasty. An initial nasoalveolar molding appliance was created based on the patient’s first and only in-person maxillary cast, produced from a traditional intraoral dental impression. Thereafter, each patient’s molding course was simulated using computer software that aimed to narrow the alveolar gap by 1 mm each week by rotating the greater alveolar segment. A maxillary cast of each predicted molding stage was created using three-dimensional printing. Subsequent appliances were constructed in advance, based on the series of computer-generated casts. Each patient had a total three clinic visits spaced 1 month apart. Anthropometric measurements and bony segment volumes were recorded before and after treatment.


Alveolar cleft widths narrowed significantly (p < 0.01), soft-tissue volume of each segment expanded (p < 0.01), and the arc of the alveolus became more contiguous across the cleft (p < 0.01). One patient required a new appliance at the second visit because of bleeding and discomfort. Eleven patients had mucosal irritation and two experienced minor mucosal ulceration.


Three-dimensional technology can precisely represent anatomic structures in pediatric clefts. Results from the authors’ algorithm are equivalent to those of traditional nasoalveolar molding therapies; however, the number of required clinic visits and appliance adjustments decreased. As three-dimensional technology costs decrease, multidisciplinary teams may design customized nasoalveolar molding treatment with improved efficiency and less burden to medical staff, patients, and families.


Therapeutic, IV.

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