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A free webinar on Tuesday, 29 September, will present guidelines on oral health in comprehensive cleft care and explain the global need for this resource, as well as recognise oral health professionals for their involvement in cleft care worldwide. (Image: FDI)

FDI webinar to discuss oral health in comprehensive cleft care

By Dental Tribune International
September 25, 2020

Clefts of the lip and palate are the most common birth defect of the face and mouth. Even children who undergo cleft surgery are often at an increased risk of caries, periodontal disease, and other oral health and well-being issues as they grow. These children require regular dental care to ensure adequate monitoring, education, support and treatment in order to prevent oral disease and achieve the highest possible quality of life. FDI World Dental Federation has joined forces with Smile Train, with funding and crucial support from GSK Consumer Healthcare, to provide essential resources on the standard of oral health and dental care for children with clefts. The first deliverable for the two-year project is the Oral Health in Comprehensive Cleft Care guidelines, which will be presented in a free webinar on Tuesday, 29 September. In an interview beforehand, the project collaborators together spoke with Dental Tribune International about the initiative.

How did the collaboration between FDI, Smile Train and GSK Consumer Healthcare come about?
GSK Consumer Healthcare is a strategic partner of FDI World Dental Federation and Smile Train. Not only does GSK provide financial support for Smile Train’s global cleft programmes, bringing smiles to so many patients around the world, but GSK also supports global awareness-building around cleft lip and palate and oral health. 

Part of Smile Train’s strategic plan is to expand its programmes to offer every facet of comprehensive cleft care to every patient in need, which, of course, includes oral health and dental care. To support this plan, GSK arranged an incredible opportunity, introducing Smile Train to its long-standing partner FDI.

FDI believes that all patients, especially patients with clefts, should have access to dental services and that oral health should be an important consideration in the cleft care pathway. To support optimal dental care for patients with clefts, oral health professionals must receive accurate, quality guidance and education in caring for this specific patient group.

There is a pressing need for high-quality, comprehensive resources on cleft care and oral health. Given Smile Train and FDI’s shared passion for enabling healthy, happy lives through oral healthcare, it was very natural that they would come together to address this need. With GSK’s crucial support, Smile Train and FDI have joined forces to support individuals with clefts and the medical professionals caring for them through this ground-breaking two-year project. We have worked closely together to develop a set of clinical practice guidelines on oral health and dental care for people born with cleft lip and palate.

What are the greatest barriers to appropriate oral care for people who are born with clefts? Are you aware of differences in any specific regions or are these difficulties a worldwide problem?
The literature available to date suggests that the predisposition to poor oral health and higher levels of dental decay among cleft lip and/or palate patients is a worldwide phenomenon. What’s more, geographical differences, financial constraints or workforce issues often determine the quality of cleft care and the ability to access it. There is also a tendency throughout the world towards increased levels of dental caries in more deprived communities and countries. This points to an overall picture of inequality that has a profound effect on the caries experience, and this is compounded by the presence of a cleft of the lip and/or palate. This joint initiative between FDI and Smile Train is designed to address these inequalities by ensuring universal access to affordable care and integration of dental health interventions in comprehensive cleft care.

What are the main learning objectives for those who will be watching your webinar?
To understand the need for clinical practice guidelines on oral health and dental care for people born with cleft lip and palate, and to understand how to use the guidelines developed and launched through the partnership.

Editorial note: The 1-hour webinar, titled “Oral health in comprehensive cleft care”, will be presented live on Tuesday, 29 September, at 3 p.m. BST by Prof. Peter Mossey, Susannah Schaefer, Dr Omolola Orenuga, Dr Gerhard Seeberger and Jayant Singh. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions about the topic, as well as earn a continuing education credit by answering a questionnaire after the lecture. Registration on the FDI Oral Health Campus website is free of charge.

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