You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on widesmiles.org.

This one is about: The Miracle of Orthodontia

(c) 2004 Wide Smiles
This Document is from WideSmiles Website - www.widesmiles.org
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Joey was born with a wide and complicated bilateral cleft lip and palate. After initial repairs, his premaxilla not only protruded, but it was tilted such that the teeth in the premaxilla grew horizontally, pointed toward his throat. When he bit into anything, he was biting with the fronts of his incisors and not the sharper edges. When he smiled, it looked as if his upper front teeth were missing. You could not see them when he talked.
 
At age 8, orthodontia began. First, he needed a palate expander to push the sides of his collapsed palate outward and line up his bite. When the sides moved outward, the premaxilla began to move in. He had bottom braces to straighten the arch and after losing his baby teeth and gaining permanent teeth in the same configuration, got brackets and braces on the top teeth. Within weeks of getting braces on top, I saw a most beautiful sight ... my son's upper teeth! I actually spent the day staring at his mouth! They just looked SO good!
 
However, Joey was not close to done yet. At the age of ten, he had bone graft surgery. Due in part to our pre-and post-surgical regimen, the graft over his wide expanse was 100% successful! But there were more braces, more brackets, more orthodontia.  When he was 13, the orthodontist ordered 4 perfectly healthy adult teeth to be removed. As you can see from his picture, Joey has a small jaw, not related to his clefting. It's just genetically small. It was a hard thing for me to do, but I agreed to let them pull four healthy adult teeth. And still, he continued in braces.
 
In the end, Joey would spend half his life in braces before getting them off. They went on at the age of eight and came off at 16.  Even though he had diligently brushed and flossed, there were large carries on two of his teeth. One was filled and the other was capped. It is impossible to tell which teeth those were.
 
Joey will have his wisdom teeth removed in the summer of his 17th year to accommodate his small jaw and the fact that they are crowding his teeth. He will wear a retainer 24 hours a day for a few years, then during the daytime for a few years more. Finally, he will graduate. We don't know when this will happen, but we know that it will eventually.
 
All I can say to any parent who is concerned about their child's teeth is -- orthodontia is tantamount to a miracle! Who would have ever imagined that the configuration of teeth Joey originally presented would end up as perfectly aligned and shaped as they are today! Thank you to Joey's orthodontist for an INCREDIBLE job!

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