If you have a young child with a cleft palate, then your son or daughter has an opening within the palate of the mouth. This can cause serious oral concerns and problems with the formation of the teeth. Your child must see a dentist early and often to make sure that permanent dental damage does not occur. Reconstructive surgery and the use of prosthetic devices may be necessary as well. Your dentist can offer your child great care, but you also must make sure that the teeth and mouth are cared for at home. Follow the tips below to provide this care.
Skip the Pacifier
Many dentists advise parents to stop pacifier use once your child turns two years old to prevent permanent dental and palate damage. If your child has a cleft palate, then it may be wise to skip the pacifier altogether. Pacifiers place a great deal of pressure on the top of the mouth as your child sucks. This can force the palate to open further or shift backward and make future reconstructive surgeries more difficult.
Also, children with cleft palates typically have problems with the formation and position of the teeth in the cleft area. Sucking on a pacifier can force the teeth further outward and prevent the adult teeth from erupting properly. This can result in the need for extensive orthodontic care in your child's future.
Instead of providing your child with a pacifier for soothing purposes, consider playing classical music whenever your child is fussy or stressed. Classical music has been shown to reduce stress hormones like cortisol that are released by the body. The music can also reduce your child's pulse and heart rate so he or she can drift off to sleep without the need for a pacifier. Classical tunes are able to distract the brain too, to reduce lengthy crying sessions.
Classical music with a slow tempo is best for soothing purposes, so look for sonatas or symphonies composed during the Baroque period. Baroque composers are known for their slow melodies, so find CDs that include music created by Bach, Purcell, Vivaldi, Handel, and Scarlatti. After you purchase the music, play songs whenever your child seems stressed of in need of comfort.
Keep the Sinuses Clear
If your child has a cleft palate, then this means that there is an opening between the sinuses and the mouth. This opening can allow mucus from the nose to flow into the mouth. Nasal mucus is produced in the nose to trap viruses, allergens, and bacteria. The foreign bodies are then removed from the nose when you blow your nose or sneeze. Unfortunately, the opening in the sinuses allows some of this mucus to flow into your child's mouth. The previously trapped bacteria can then attack the gums and feed on sugars to create cavity concerns. You can prevent this from happening by making sure your child blows his or her nose often.
Mucus may still flow into the mouth of your child if excretions are too thick to run out the nasal cavities. This means that you need to thin out the mucus to make sure it can easily come out of the nose. One easy way to do this is to use a saline spray. A mister from your local pharmacy is a good choice for young children. The water in the spray will thin out the mucus while the salt breaks up excretions.
Use the spray gently in each nostril and make sure your child tips his or her head forward so the mucus releases out the nose. You can use the saline spray several times a day. If your child is old enough to eat solid foods, then you can add herbs to the diet to thin the mucus naturally as well. Ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, and sage are all good choices.
If you have a young child with a cleft palate, then you need to make sure that you provide great oral care. Serious dental problems can accompany the condition, but you can prevent some issues by reducing pacifier use and by keeping the nasal passages clear. For further questions, talk to a pediatric dentist.