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Article: Volume 48 Number 7 Page 547 - July/August 2021

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  Dental Update 491: 547-554

General Dental practice:  Cleft lip and palate in general dental practice: filling in the gaps

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Abstract: Cleft lip and palate (CLP) is the most common of craniofacial anomalies in humans. CLP results from disruption of embryonic processes during orofacial development; while syndromic clefts may have clearer aetiology, non-syndromic clefts are heterogeneous in aetiology. It is important for GDPs to understand the classification of CLP and the structure of centralized cleft centres in order to communicate with cleft teams. This article aims to clarify the role of GDPs within cleft management and discusses challenges in maintaining oral health in this group of patients, including increased risk of dental caries and periodontal disease, dental anomalies and psychosocial considerations.

Clinical relevance: The GDP should be responsible for maintaining good oral health for the patient with cleft lip and palate, focusing on prevention from a young age and restorative work if needed.

Author notes: Sharan Reddy, BDS, BSc (Hons), PgCert, MFDS (RCPS Glas), Specialty Dentist in Paediatric Dentistry, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London. Catherine Liu, BDS(Hons), DCT2 in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Queen’s Hospital, Romford, Essex. Mina Vaidyanathan, BDS, BSc (Hons), MFDS (RCS Ed), MSc, MPaedDent (RCS Eng), FDS (Paed Dent RCS Eng), Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London. Nabina Bhujel, BDS, MFDS (RCPS Glas), MPaedDent, (RCPS Glas), DClinDent (Paed Dent), FDS (Paed Dent RCS Eng), Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London. email:

Objective: The reader should gain an understanding of the nature of cleft lip and palate, the dental challenges that may arise, and the GDP’s role in its management.