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Comparison of oral hygiene and periodontal status in patients with clefts of palate and patients with unilateral cleft lip, palate and alveolus.
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MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21731249     Owner:  NLM     Status:  PubMed-not-MEDLINE    
AIM: This study was conducted to analyze and compare the oral hygiene and periodontal status in patients with clefts of palate (CP) and patients with unilateral cleft lip, palate and alveolus (UCLPA).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study group consisted of 120 cleft patients. Subjects were divided into two groups of 60 each. Group I - patients with UCLPA and Group II - patients with CP. For comparison, all the four quadrants were defined, Q1-right upper quadrant, Q2-left upper quadrant, Q3-left lower quadrant and Q4-right lower quadrant, in both groups and the following parameters were recorded: Plaque Index (PI, Silness and Loe), Sulcus Bleeding Index (SBI, Muhlemann and Son), Probing Pocket Depth (PPD), Clinical Attachment Level (CAL), Mobility Index (Miller) and Radiographic Amount of Bone Loss.
RESULTS: The periodontal destruction was seen to be higher in UCLPA patients compared with CP patients. The poor oral hygiene status, as indicated by higher values of PI, and the periodontal status, evaluated by SBI, PPD, CAL, mobility and Radiographic Amount of Bone Loss, were higher in patients with UCLPA than in patients with CP.
CONCLUSION: In this study, patients with cleft lip, palate and alveolus had poor oral hygiene and periodontal status compared with patients with cleft palate.
Ramesh Babu Mutthineni; Rajasekhar Nutalapati; Suresh Kumar Kasagani
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology     Volume:  14     ISSN:  0975-1580     ISO Abbreviation:  J Indian Soc Periodontol     Publication Date:  2010 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-07-06     Completed Date:  2011-07-14     Revised Date:  2013-05-29    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101499342     Medline TA:  J Indian Soc Periodontol     Country:  India    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  236-40     Citation Subset:  -    
Department of Periodontics, Mamata Dental College and Hospital, Khammam, Andhra Pradesh, India.
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Journal Information
Journal ID (nlm-ta): J Indian Soc Periodontol
Journal ID (publisher-id): JISP
ISSN: 0972-124X
ISSN: 0975-1580
Publisher: Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, India
Article Information
Copyright: © Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology
Received Day: 19 Month: 11 Year: 2009
Accepted Day: 15 Month: 9 Year: 2010
Print publication date: Season: Oct-Dec Year: 2010
Volume: 14 Issue: 4
First Page: 236 Last Page: 240
ID: 3118074
PubMed Id: 21731249
Publisher Id: JISP-14-236
DOI: 10.4103/0972-124X.76928

Comparison of oral hygiene and periodontal status in patients with clefts of palate and patients with unilateral cleft lip, palate and alveolus
Ramesh Babu Mutthineniaff1
Rajasekhar Nutalapatiaff1
Suresh Kumar Kasaganiaff1
Department of Periodontics, Mamata Dental College and Hospital, Khammam, Andhra Pradesh, India
Correspondence: Address for correspondence: Dr. Ramesh Babu Mutthineni, Department of Periodontics, Mamata Dental College, Khammam, Andhra Pradesh, India


An orofacial cleft is caused by an incomplete fusion of the maxillary processes from the fourth to the 12th week of fetal life. The most important etiologic factors are of genetic origin, determined by a monogenetic or polygenetic inheritance pattern as well as some exogenous factors, such as smoking, alcohol, X-rays and antimitotics.

There are large variations in shape and extension of the deformation, reaching from a cleft of the lip to a cleft of the lip, alveolar process and palate. Each cleft can be complete or incomplete, unilateral or bilateral. The deformity may be present as a single disorder or in association (10%) with a syndrome such as Pierre-Robin Syndrome, Crouzon Syndrome or Treacher-Collins Syndrome.[1]

The incidence of this malformation varies considerably among races, and depends on the type of cleft, with an increased incidence in males (ratio 2/1), and 80% of the deformity is unilateral.[2]

Children and adolescents with a cleft lip and palate (CLP) are at increased risk for the development of periodontitis and carious lesions. The persisting soft tissue folds before closure, which is difficult to reach with conventional cleaning techniques, and may serve as a habitat for putative pathogens, thereby enhancing the intraoral translocation of pathogens and, consequently, the risk for periodontal infection.[3]

Analyzing the progression rate of periodontitis in adolescents with various forms of cleft lip, palate and alveolus (CLPA), high incidences of plaque and bleeding on probing were reported.[4] Teeth adjacent to the cleft, often with a long supra-crestal connective tissue attachment, showed a slightly more pronounced cumulative periodontal destruction.

Closure of the defects was carried out at different times in life in order to interfere as little as possible with palato-facial growth and speech development. The lip was closed at the age of 3 months, the soft palate at 18 months and the hard palate at 4-6 years. Mostly, bone graft was placed at the age of 9-10 years to restore the alveolar ridge, to support the soft tissues and to allow the eruption of the canine.[5]

In the case of multiple tooth malpositions, transversal space deficit and a primary cross-bite situation, periodontal trauma increases and is detrimental to periodontal health. Orthodontic treatment adds to this trauma.[6] Reitan[7] had described the correlation of pressure exertion and damage to the periodontium caused by orthodontic appliances. The greatest damage to the periodontium was caused by dental tilting movements and intrusions. The length and duration of pressure were responsible for the extent of periodontal damage.

In osseous clefts, the osseous structures are absent or poorly developed in the region of periodontal supportive tissue. The osseous structures are additionally traumatized in the course of long-term orthodontic therapy. A considerable improvement in periodontal health can be achieved by secondary osteoplastic surgery.[8]

The question concerning cleft-specific damage of the periodontium can be answered only when comparing the periodontal situation of patients with different types of clefts and similar states of oral hygiene.

Periodontal health in cleft patients

The cleft deformity and surgical scars can make it difficult to control plaque. Prolonged orthodontic therapy and the wearing of a prosthesis to prevent collapse of the dental arch commonly result in inflammatory papillary hyperplasia. Intensive prophylactic programs for CLP patients should be implanted as early as possible and a coordinated team approach for the treatment of all aspects of care should include close supervision of oral hygiene measures and regular professional maintenance through a regular recall system for the entire lifetime of the patient.[9]

Bone grafting of the cleft has become an accepted means of improving the morphology of the alveolar ridge, supplementing the amount of bone to facilitate tooth eruption. Alveolar bone grafting has come to produce such good results that it has been stated that the periodontal condition is normalized following bone grafting and that gingivitis is seldom seen in the cleft region. Clinically, it might be assumed that[10] the ultimate success of a bone graft is dependent on the total elimination, or at least the controlling, of the level of gingivitis prior to the placement of a bone graft. Preoperative gingival health has been considered to be a more important factor in determining the success of the operation than the anatomical source of the bone graft.

The need for subsequent surgery in the orofacial region further substantiates the need for good oral hygiene and oral health. Hence, it is important to have healthy periodontal tissues not only to optimize the treatment results but also because each step in the treatment process can jeopardize periodontal health.

Alveolar bone condition in cleft patients

Comparing sites from teeth adjacent to an alveolar cleft with control sites that were unaffected by a cleft, it was found that[11] the radiographic alveolar bone level was significantly more apical at the cleft sites whereas the probing attachment level was similar at the cleft and the control sites. These findings indicated that a long connective tissue attachment might be present at the cleft sites.

Teeth with a long supra-crestal connective tissue fiber attachment, as observed at sites adjacent to the alveolar cleft defects, appear to be equally resistant to periodontal disease as any other tooth in the dentition.


The present study was conducted in 120 patients with age ranging from 12 to 18 years, who reported to the Mamatha Dental College and Hospital, Khammam, during July 2008 to July 2009. Ethical committee clearance was obtained and consent was taken from all the subjects.

They were divided into two groups: Group I consisted of 60 patients, 20 females and 40 males with unilateral cleft lip, palate and alveolus (UCLPA) and Group II consisted of 60 patients, 19 females and 41 males with clefts of palate (CP).

For comparison, all the four quadrants were defined, Q1-right upper quadrant, Q2-left upper quadrant, Q3-left lower quadrant and Q4-right lower quadrant, in both CP and UCLPA patients.

Patient selection
Inclusion criteria

  1. Patients with cleft palate (unilateral/bilateral/anterior/posterior/ both)[12] who had not been operated [Figure 1].
  2. Patients with UCLPA who had not been operated. [Figure 2]
  3. Systemically healthy subjects.
  4. Patients with age ranging from 12 to 18 years.
  5. Only the permanent teeth were considered for periodontal examination.

Periodontal examination

The patients selected for this study were clinically examined 1-2 days after admission to the Mamatha General Hospital. The examination was carried out during the hospital stay.

Each participant was subjected to clinical assessment using a dental mirror, explorer and a William's periodontal probe, under an artificial light.

In all four quadrants, for both the groups, the following parameters were recorded:

  1. Plaque Index (PI, Silness and Loe 1964)
  2. Sulcus Bleeding Index (SBI, Muhlemann H.R. and Son S. 1971)
  3. Probing Pocket Depth (PPD)
  4. Clinical Attachment Level (CAL)
  5. Mobility Index (Miller)
  6. Radiographic Amount of Bone Loss
Radiographic bone loss was measured on periapical radiographs with a digital caliper from the C.E.J. to the alveolar crest. A long-cone paralleling technique was used to take these radiographs [Figure 3].[13]

Statistical analysis

Mean and standard deviation were estimated from the sample for each study group. Mean values were compared between groups by using either Student's independent t-test or Mann-Whitney U-test appropriately.

Proportions of different mobility scores were estimated and compared using Pearson's Chi-square test.


CLP has been recognized as a major source of disability, preventing people from realizing their potential and contributing fully to society. In the developed world, many of these challenges have been redressed through the institution of a multidisciplinary approach to the child identified with an orofacial cleft. Rigorous attempts to minimize impaired speech, hearing, dental, nutritional and intellectual functions have revolutionized contemporary cleft lip and cleft palate patient care. Surgical techniques have been refined such that a high level of esthetic restoration is the rule rather than the exception. Unfortunately, in developing countries, access to rehabilitative and supportive treatment programs is limited or nonexistent.[14]

According to Ramjford,[15] Lindhe et al.[16] and Silness,[17] healthy periodontium is a prerequisite for the long-term health of the stomatognathic system. Adequate plaque control may be regarded as the most important single factor in the maintenance of periodontal health in cleft patients.

In adult patients with a congenital complete unilateral CLP, anatomic deviation and therapeutic intervention may create conditions that hamper proper plaque control in relation to maxillary teeth. The degree of anatomic deviation depends on the characteristics of the original malformation and the type of treatment to which the patient has been subjected.[18] Prevalence and extent of gingival lesions and periodontal destruction in patients with CLPA and CP are significant functional criteria in the assessment of an interdisciplinary treatment outcome.

In the present study, average PI scores in Group I patients was higher than that in the Group II patients [Table 1]. This in accordance with the results of studies by Bragger et al.,[19] Costa et al.,[20] Ahluwalia et al.[21] and Pandey et al.[22] . The obvious reason for this is the difficulty in achieving optimal tooth cleaning because of the anatomy of the cleft area in Group I (patients with cleft involving the alveolus). Incompetent lip closure was found in many of the cleft patients, which hampered access for adequate oral hygiene in the maxillary quadrants. Also, the mucosal tissue is much more sensitive than attached tissue at the cleft side, because of which individuals brush much less thoroughly where the teeth have reduced amounts of attached tissue.

Average SBI scores in Group I patients was higher than that in Group II patients [Table 2]. In Group II patients, the patients were able to efficiently clean the buccal surface of the maxillary quadrants compared with Group I patients, who were not able to maintain their oral hygiene in both the buccal and the palatal surfaces of the maxillary quadrants. This may be the reason for the low SBI score in Group II patients. These results were in accordance to the study performed by Alexander et al.,[8] and Schultes et al.[6] The presence of cleft, which hampered brushing efficiency, especially in both quadrants of the maxillary arch, resulted in more accumulation of plaque. The constant presence of irritants surrounding the gingival margin lead to inflammatory reaction and increased bleeding index scores in Group I patients.

The average PPD score for Group I patients was higher than that of Group II patients [Table 3]. The reason for this was the presence of cleft involving alveolus in Group I. This was similar to the results of a study carried out by Bragger et al.,[19] Bragger et al.[4] and Teja et al.[23]

The average CAL scores for Group I patients was higher than that for Group II patients [Table 4]. This was in accordance to the study results of Bragger et al.[19] and Alexander et al.[8] Also, Novak et al.[24] described no clinically or histologically detectable loss of attachment despite a substantial lack of supporting bone.

The average grade I mobility in Group I was higher than the average grade I mobility in Group II [Table 5]. The average grade II mobility in Group I was higher than the average grade II mobility in Group II. The reason for this is that individuals with alveolar cleft deformity have thinner alveolar housing in the site of the defect; increased mobility on the cleft side could have been caused by the reduced amount of supporting bone and, also, higher higher scores in PI, SBI, PPD and CAL were found in Group I than Group II. Grade III mobility was not detected in any of the four quadrants in both Group I and Group II. The results obtained in this study were lower than those obtained by Schultes et al.[6] and Alexander et al.,[8] which could be due to the differences in the study population.

The average radiographic amount of bone lossscores in Group I patients was higher than that in Group II patients [Table 6]. This was in accordance with the study by Bragger et al.[19] and Bragger et al.,[4] which showed radiographically significant lower bone height in UCLPA, indicating the presence of long connective tissue attachment with reduced bone support.

In general, the values of all the parameters were higher in Group I than in Group II in the present study, indicating a poor oral hygiene and periodontal condition in the UCLPA patients. This was in accordance with the study carried out by Johnson et al.,[25] Bragger et al.[19] and Schultes et al.,[6] who examined various forms of cleft patients for periodontal status.

Studies performed by Lucas et al.[26] and Bastos et al.[27] failed to show a poor periodontal status in cleft patients. These variations in the results may be due to the difference in the study population in terms of their socioeconomic status, educational level, oral hygiene awareness, etc.

The limitation of this study was that it did not include the socioeconomic status and there was no comparison between the presurgical and the postsurgical cases, nor was there any comparison with the periodontal status in the general population. Hence, in the future, a longitudinal study of longer duration and large sample size is necessary to evaluate the relationship between periodontal status and cleft patients.

Thus, it may be inferred from this study that subjects with CLPA are more prone for periodontal lesions. In case of neglected oral hygiene, these subjects are predisposed to periodontal disease in the direct vicinity of clefts, leading to premature pathological loosening of teeth. Thus, intensive oral hygiene measures taken by these subjects along with early interdisciplinary treatment are an effective way to prevent extensive periodontal disease.


A healthy periodontium is an important prerequisite for unhindered dentition and long-term oral health. In cleft patients, the oral hygiene maintenance is a difficult task because of the patient's oronasal communication. The crowding of teeth in cleft patients is a common finding, especially in CLPA.

From this study, it can be concluded that patients with UCLPA had a poor oral hygiene and periodontal status when compared with cleft palate patients.

Further studies of longer duration and large sample size are necessary to evaluate the oral hygiene and periodontal status in cleft patients. The intensive oral hygiene measures advocated to the cleft patients along with early multidisciplinary treatment are an effective way to prevent extensive periodontal destruction.


Source of Support: Nil

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

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[Figure ID: F1]
Figure 1 

Cleft palate - maxillary and mandibular view

[Figure ID: F2]
Figure 2 

Cleft lip, palate and alveolus - maxillary and mandibular view

[Figure ID: F3]
Figure 3 

IOPAs of both groups

[TableWrap ID: T1] Table 1 

Comparison of mean plaque index scores between group I and group II

[TableWrap ID: T2] Table 2 

Comparison of mean sulcus bleeding index scores between group I and group II

[TableWrap ID: T3] Table 3 

Comparison of mean probing pocket depth (in mm) between group I and group II

[TableWrap ID: T4] Table 4 

Comparison of mean clinical attachment level (in mm) between group I and group II

[TableWrap ID: T5] Table 5 

Percentage of grades of tooth mobility in group I and group II

[TableWrap ID: T6] Table 6 

Comparison of mean radiographic amount of bone loss (in mm) between group I and group II

Article Categories:
  • Original Article

Keywords: Cleft patients, oral hygiene, periodontal status.

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