Initial Delay in Tooth Formation in Children with CL/P Negated as They Grow

Alyssa KirkmanACPA News

  • Delayed dental development seen in children with CL/P until age 8-10 years
  • Children with CL/P “catch up” to peers in tooth formation over time

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. / Aug. 25, 2020 – Children with cleft lip/palate (CL/P) experience developmental delays in tooth formation initially, but by age 8 to 10 years “catch up” to their non-CL/P peers according to a recent research study. The study, ” A Retrospective Mixed Longitudinal Study of Tooth Formation in Children With Clefts” was published in the August 2020 issue of The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal (CPCJ).

Postnatal growth of children with nonsyndromic clefts is slower than normal, primarily due to a variety of environmental factors. Since children with CL/P experience problems with feeding, respiration, speech, social interactions and many other physical and psychosocial problems, the development of permanent teeth is often affected.

“Quantifying the degree of difference between children with clefts versus comparable noncleft norms has been studied previously,” said Sarah B. Kimbrough, lead researcher. “However, while prior research has been cross-sectional—children with CL/P were studied once—our study monitored the dental formation of children with clefts across time.”

Researchers reviewed panoramic radiographs taken periodically over a 15-year period from one orthodontic practice that focuses on treating children with craniofacial anomalies. The sample consisted of 102 nonsyndromic cases with complete CL/P (72 boys; 30 girls): 70 with unilateral clefts (51 boys, 19 girls) and 32 bilateral clefts (21 boys, 11 girls). Participants’ birth years were between 1996 and 2010.

Results of the study showed that, although children with CL/P matured more slowly than control groups initially, their tooth development, starting around age 8 to 10 years, normalized over time. The “sex” difference in how children were affected by CL/P noted in previous studies was present in this research as well. Girls had faster dental maturity than boys.

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About the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association
The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) association of interested individuals and health care professionals who treat and/or perform research on oral cleft and craniofacial conditions. Since 1943, ACPA has worked to optimize outcomes for individuals with oral cleft and craniofacial conditions through education, support, research, advocacy and interdisciplinary team care. ACPA also provides information to affected individuals and families and seeks to educate the public about facial differences through its ACPA Family Services program. For more information, please visit