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Dental and Oral Health (Children)

Two at once

03/03/2005

Question:

Hello, this is to ask you (in order to have another opinion) about a procedure my son needs to have pretty soon. Well, he is three years and a half, he was born with cleft lip and palate (included in a genetic syndrome). He has already had surgery for the soft palate a lip, he needs to have his hard palate repaired (we have been trying to do it for quite a while now, but he had several colds fevers, viruses, etc) and now he has some cavities they need to fill in his teeth and even one tooth they will need to pull. They (his doctors) say he needs to have these repairs done before the surgery because cavities are source on infection, I understand that, of course, but, and here is my question, is it possible to have the teeth fixed and palate repair at the same time?. If it is not possible, or if you think it will be dagerous, would you please tell me why?. They need to do the repairs or work in his teeth with general anesthesia (because he would not cooperate) so it would mean two visits to the OR and it makes me worry. Thank you in advance. 

Answer:

Your concern about two separate visits to the operating room for your son's dental treatment and cleft palate repair is understandable, but this is the best way to safely provide his care. This is true for several reasons. Most importantly, your son must have an infected tooth extracted, and that site should be healed before the hard palate surgery to assure the best possible result. Further, it may take up to two hours to treat his cavities prior to the palate surgery, and recovering from both procedures would be more difficult for your child.

While we do occasionally complete dental treatment while a child is under general anesthesia for a medical procedure, that procedure is always very short and completed in another part of the body (like ear tubes, for example). General anesthesia is provided very safely today and your child should definitely have his dental treatment completed and healed before the cleft palate repair. 

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Response by:

Dennis J McTigue, DDS Dennis J McTigue, DDS
Professor of Pediatric Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University