Because clefting leads to so many complications, people with clefts are often seen by a team of health care providers. The team may include a plastic surgeon, prosthodontist, speech pathologist, oral surgeon, pediatric dentist, and orthodontist. Dr. Hal N. Arnold served on the cleft palate team at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital with Dr. Michael Stewart (orthodontist) and Dr. Fernando Burstein (cranio-facial surgeon) early in his career and lectured at their annual symposiums.
As a board certified prosthodontist, Dr. Arnold’s role on this type of a team ranges from the early intervention with nasoalveolar molding. This is where an appliance is used in infants to help guide the growth of each side of the alveolar clefts. This can also be used to mold the baby’s nose to make the initial surgery more successful. Here at our practice, Dr. Hal Arnold also works with many adult patients to replace any teeth that perhaps did not form due to the cleft. Sometimes oral appliances are required throughout the process to aid in speech, function, and esthetics.
Our practice creates the prosthetic device used to temporarily close the palate so the baby can feed and grow until surgery. We may also make a dental bridge to replace missing teeth or create special appliances called “speech bulbs” or “palatal lifts” to help close the nose from the mouth enabling speech to sound more normal.