People with cleft palate or cleft lip often suffer with increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay throughout their lives. New findings suggest that these dental problems could occur due to abnormal saliva glands in the mouth. It also shows that an uneven balance in immune compounds within saliva could be a contributing factor.
The study was published in the Journal of Dental Health Research, and explored the subject by observing mice with the gene mutation that is responsible for a cleft palate or lip. The mice all showed signs of less effective salivary glands, which had a knock-on effect on their oral health.
Craniofacial researcher and lead author of the paper, Dr Timothy Cox, discussed the findings with Science Daily, “We found that the cleft lip and palate gene mutation also resulted in abnormal salivary glands. The result was a mouth environment that was too acidic and contained excess bacteria, which led to problems in the gums and more rapid tooth decay.”
If the salivary glands are working as they should, the saliva is secreted to balance acidity from food and drinks. People with the cleft palate or lip gene do not excrete saliva containing the protective immune compounds properly. More research is due to be undertaken in the near future, with the hope of providing dentists and doctors with a better understanding of how to treat patients with a cleft palate or lip.