Healthy Mouth Healthy Body

Concerns Unique To Newborns

Holding the newborn baby is the most happiest moment in a couple’s lifetime.With this newfound joy comes newfound responsibilities of being good parents.The health of the child is of utmost concern for parents, and child’s oral health is a part of the overall well-being.

Even though a newborn does not seem to have any teeth, IDA recommends you to make a dental visit as and when permitted by the pediatrician. There are a couple of dental anamolies which maybe observed in newborns.

Here are some of the concerns that are unique to newborns:

Cleft Lip / Cleft Palate

Cleft lip is a facial and oral birth defect where the upper lips remain split, instead of sealing together before birth. Identical splits are also found in the roof of the mouth and they are called as cleft palate. Both, cleft lip and palate can occur alone or together to the same child during the development of fetus. It could be due to genetic reasons or because of maternal environmental exposures during the pregnancy phase.

Along with affecting the appearance of the face, cleft lip and cleft palate can present a variety of difficulties including:

  • Difficulty eating
  • Speech difficulties
  • Ear infections
  • Misaligned teeth

Cleft lip and palate both can be corrected through surgery that can be performed between the age of 3 to 6 months. The number of surgeries required depends on the severity of the defect. These birth defects are diagnosed at birth, although minor clefting of the palate might be overlooked initially.

IDA recommends that you talk with your physician and dentist for a physical examination and more information about possible treatments if a cleft is suspected. Infants that have cleft lip and palate should be fed using a Pigeon system bottle to encourage active feeding. However, the baby still has to suck a bit hard. The Pigeon system bottle comes with one-way valve that prevents the milk from going back into the bottle after it has been sucked through.

Breastfeeding can still be accomplished, but it is recommended to consult a lactation educator before attempting.


Those who have a child with a cleft lip or palate have higher probability of having more children being affected with it. Genetic counseling or testing may provide answers.

It is recommended to avoid alcohol and drug consumption during the pregnancy phase. On the other hand, consumption of folic acid supplements regularly during the first month before conception and during the initial months of pregnancy can help.

Cleft lip and palate can be corrected with surgeries. Cleft lip generally requires one or two surgeries depending on the severity of the condition. The first surgery is usually performed by the time a baby is three months old.

Cleft palate, on the other hand, requires multiple surgeries over the course of 18 years. The initial surgery is done when the baby is between 6 months to one year old. This surgery creates a functional palate that helps in reducing the chances of fluid development in the middle ears. It also aids in the development of the teeth and facial bones.

In some cases, children with cleft palate may also need a bone graft to fill in the upper gum line. This surgery is done when the child is around 8 years old and bone grafting supports permanent teeth and in stabilization of the upper jaw. Around 20% of the children with a cleft palate need more surgeries to improve their speech. Once the permanent teeth grow in, braces are often needed to straighten the teeth.

Multiple surgeries are usually recommended and performed to improve the overall looks of the lip and nose. Surgery is also recommended to close opening between the mouth and nose, to help the patient breathe and to stabilize and realign the jaw. Scars left by the initial surgery are only worked on after adolescence when the facial structure is fully developed.