Aim: To compare the prevalence of dental caries in children with cleft lip/palate with national data at the same age.
Method: Ethical approval was granted from the West of Scotland Ethics Committee. Children attending the Oral Orthopaedic Clinic were examined for caries according to the criteria of the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (BASCD) by two trained and calibrated examiners (KB, RW). Subjects were divided into five age groups: 0.5-1.49; 1.5-2.49; 2.5-3.49; 3.5-4.49 and 4.5-6.0 years. Mean dmft scores were compared with available national data (National Dental Inspection Program of Scotland) for nursery [NDIP 3-year-old survey 2008, unpublished] and 5-year-old children in Scotland [NDIP, 2008].
Results: 209 subjects were examined (participation rate of 87.4%); 45.9% were female, 54.1% male; 21 children (10%) had a recognised syndrome and were reported separately. Cleft Palate (CP) was the most commonly occurring cleft in both syndromic and non-syndromic groups, followed in decreasing numbers by Unilateral Cleft Lip and Palate (UCLP), Bilateral Cleft Lip and Palate (BCLP), Unilateral Cleft Lip (UCL) and Bilateral Cleft Lip (BCL). The only age group with a significantly higher level of dental caries compared with national data was the 4.5-6.0 year-olds where only 37.2% of the children with clefts were caries free compared with the national figure of 57.7% (p=0.004). This same age group had a mean dmft for the cleft group of 3.24 compared with 1.86 nationally. The other age groups had similar dmft and percentages of subjects caries free compared with the national data. The differences did not reach significance. Caries was more common in the anterior teeth of the youngest two age groups, but in the posterior teeth of the two oldest age groups.
Conclusion: By the age of 4.5 years, children with cleft lip/palate in the West of Scotland have significantly more caries than their non-cleft peers.