4 birth defects that could affect your oral health

It is likely that you have seen kids with a cleft in the lip sometimes continuing into the palate (or roof of your mouth) or tooth/teeth missing from birth. Well, these are what are called congenital anomalies or birth defects. In this post, we see how such defects often lead to oral health problems. Treatment in such cases is complex and involves multiple specialities in dentistry.

Congenital defect #1: Cleft lip and/or palate

Cleft lip and/or palate are the most common birth defects of the mouth. Cleft lip occurs when the two structures or processes that make up the lip do not fuse completely before birth. When the two developmental plates of the skull that form the roof of the mouth (hard palate) fail to join completely cleft palate is formed. Clefts lead to a gap or opening in the lip and palate. In cleft palate there is a direct connection between the mouth and the nose.

What problems can this cause?

Cleft lip and cleft palate can cause problems with sucking, swallowing, speech and socialization.

There could be a risk of aspiration (food going from the mouth to the nose and/or respiratory tract).

Teeth may be missing, deformed or displaced. This could cause adjoining teeth to move into the space causing improper bite, irregular gaps between teeth and difficulty in chewing etc.

Soft tissue folds and irregularities in the palate or roof of the mouth can increase the risk of gum disease.


Congenital defect #2: Congenital absence of teeth or anodontia.

This is a condition is which some or all of the teeth are missing by birth.

What problems can this cause?

Partially missing teeth can create huge gaps into which opposite and adjacent teeth move. This causes improper bite which can lead to excessive teeth wear, injury to the supporting structures (periodontium) of the teeth and loss of bone around the teeth. Misaligned teeth can also make it harder to clean them thereby causing decay and gum disease.

Congenital defect #3: Tongue tie or Ankyloglossia.

Here the tongue is literally ‘stuck’ or ‘tied’ to the floor of the mouth.

What problems can this cause?

Ankyloglossia can cause swallowing and speech difficulty.It may also make maintaining oral hygiene difficult giving rise to gum disease, cavities etc.

Congenital defect #4: Congenital enamel hypoplasia or Amelogenesis Imperfecta

Amelogenesis imperfecta is a genetic disorder in which there is underdevelopment of tooth enamel causing it to be unusually thin, discoloured, pitted and fragile. Rarely, it may be associated with abnormally enlarged gums which make oral hygiene difficult.

What problems can this cause?

This condition causes teeth to be prone to rapid wear and breakage. Thin enamel increases the sensitivity of the teeth to temperature changes. There is increased risk for teeth decay. When associated with gum enlargement, it can cause bad breath as well as discomfort when chewing or talking.

Source: News India

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