Objective: The objective of this study is to assess the associations between orofacial dysfunctions with malocclusion, masticatory performance, and taste in children with and without unilateral cleft lip and palate (UCLP).
Material and methods: A patient-based, matched, case-control study was conducted involving 108 8- to 10-year-old children divided in UCLP and control groups. Orofacial dysfunctions were evaluated using the Nordic Orofacial Test-Screening (NOT-S). Orthodontic treatment need was evaluated using the Goslon Yardstick Index (GYI) and the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN) of patients and controls, respectively. Masticatory performance was assessed using a chewable test material to determine median particle size (X 50) and distribution of particles in different sieves (b value). Taste perception was evaluated using four solutions (sweet, salty, bitter, or acid) in three different concentrations.
Results: More than half of the patients needed orthodontic surgery. UCLP group presented higher median particle size and needed more chewing cycles to comminute the artificial test into particles smaller than the median than those of controls. UCLP group had less perception of salty flavor than controls. There was a positive correlation between b value and NOT-S examination score for patients. In regression analysis, a significant interrelationship was observed between NOT-S examination score and b value.
Conclusions: In the UCLP patients, masticatory performance was compromised probably as a result of facial asymmetry and speech disturbance; whereas, taste was less perceived only for salty flavor.
Clinical relevance: These findings provide preliminary evidence that mastication and taste are altered in children with UCLP, so these factors must be followed up to ensure oral and general health in growing individuals.
Keywords: Cleft lip; Cleft palate; Disability evaluation; Malocclusion; Mastication; Taste.