If your cleft went through your gum line, you may need a bone graft (the bone comes from your hip) so that your adult teeth will stay strong in your mouth. An orthodontist will work with you for 6 months before this operation to make the gap big enough to take a new piece of bone –they do this with an orthodontic appliance – sort of like braces, but this is called a quad helix.
You usually stay in hospital for 2 or 3 days and after the operation you need to use mouth wash to keep your mouth clean. Because you may not have had a stay in hospital for awhile, probably since you were a baby, it’s a good idea to visit the ward to ask any questions you may have. No question is silly, ask away.
According to one young man, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. The sorest part was my hip and I only had to take a few weeks off playing sport.”
Lots of kids need orthodontics which is a specialised dentistry to make your teeth straighter and your top and bottom teeth aligned. Most kids may end up having two big sessions of orthodontic work done at around 8-10 yrs, then again when older. Because of this you will probably get to know your orthodontist pretty well and they you.
The first work your Orthodontist does is preparation for the ‘bone graft’ operation. You will see the Orthodontist regurlarly before the operation to make sure the gap will be big enough to take your new piece of bone. They do this by putting a spring (quad helix) in between the teeth either side of your cleft which takes about 6 months to stretch.
For orthodontics to work all kids need to have healthy strong teeth so looking after your teeth is really important.
Here is a simple checklist to make sure your teeth will be around long enough for the Orthodontist to do their magic. Your baby teeth are important as well as they help to make sure there is a place for your adult teeth by ‘holding the space’ in your mouth.
- Brush with a fluoride toothpaste after breakfast and before you go to bed.
- Only eat sugary foods and fizzy drinks at mealtimes.
- Go to your dental appointments at the school dental clinic or cleft clinic.
You might want to know this:
I am scared of; operations, needles, gas, doctors, dentists?
We all fear something. Sometimes it is because of a memory but our memory can play tricks on us. For instance just because something wasn’t nice once, it may not be like that again.
We also are more scared of things we don’t understand – so ask questions. You can see the needle, or the mask that doctors use. Remember Doctors and Dentists are just like you and me – just people. They do not want you to be scared and are there to put your mind at rest.
I don’t like clinic appointments?
Clinic appointments are important to check on how you are doing as you grow up. They are the way the doctors plan for your next stage of treatment and make sure you get it. Speaking up in appointments about your questions and how you are feeling can make you feel much better. You can practise this at home with your parents. If you have a question for a doctor, write it down and read it out.
Do you think people notice that I’m different?
We are all different. Have you ever noticed that no two faces are the same? Some people notice differences more than others but it is what’s on the the inside that is important. You know what, we notice differences in ourselves a lot. It is like you are looking in a magnifying glass BUT most people don’t really look that closely at us.
Sometimes I feel angry, what should I do?
Try and work out what it is that is making you feel angry. When you do, you can usually see that there’s no need to be angry after all.
Telling someone you trust about your feelings can really help. Go and do something that makes you feel good, or give us a call . Letting feelings out can help them to go away.
I don’t like going out of school for special appointments at the hospital or with my SLT. How can I get out of them?
Other kids think you are lucky and special in a good way by getting time out of class. If you are worried about missing things, talk to your teacher and try and work around any special events in your school. All these special appointments are to help you achieve your huge potential.
Why do people talk about my health in front of me?
Adults don’t always do everything they should. Sometimes when adults feel worried about something they like to talk about it. They can forget that if it is about you, you may not always like it. Just remind them, how you feel and could they please stop.
What else can I do to minimise the scar so people don’t notice?
We have to become comfortable with who we are and what we look like. People do this in all kinds of way. Write a list of all the things you love about yourself.Some people talk to their surgeon to see if there is anything that can help. Others use makeup and clothing to highlight their other attributes. Knowing you’re a star means some stuff isn’t that important any more.