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Falling through the gap: Dental treatment experiences of patients affected by cleft lip and/or palate

Stock, Nicola Marie; Sharratt, Nicholas D; Heath, Jennifer; Nankivell, David; Martindale, Anna; Ridley, Matthew; Ahmed, Anum; McMullin, Ailbhe; Cunniffe, Claire


Jennifer Heath

David Nankivell

Anna Martindale

Matthew Ridley

Anum Ahmed

Ailbhe McMullin

Claire Cunniffe


© 2018, Nature Publishing Group. All rights reserved. Introduction In the UK, one in 600–700 infants is born with a cleft lip and/or palate (CL/P). Previous research has identified patients with CL/P to be at high risk of long-term oral health issues. Yet, few of these patients are currently accessing community dental care. Aims To assess patients’ dental treatment experiences and their suggestions for improving services. Materials and methods Five focus groups were conducted with 24 adults with CL/P. Thematic analysis was performed on the data. Results Participants perceived local dental practitioners to lack knowledge about CL/P and its treatment. Consequently, some participants had stopped visiting a dental practice altogether. Participants were also largely unaware of the specialist CL/P services they are entitled to. Discussion Suggestions are made for the integration of improved training and resources for local dental practitioners. Closer communication between specialist cleft teams and local dental practitioners could also help to bridge the gap in knowledge and improve patients’ engagement with dental services. The tertiary sector has a crucial role to play in empowering patients to take more control of their oral health and dental treatment.


Stock, N. M., Sharratt, N. D., Heath, J., Nankivell, D., Martindale, A., Ridley, M., …Cunniffe, C. (2018). Falling through the gap: Dental treatment experiences of patients affected by cleft lip and/or palate. British Dental Journal, 225(3), 218-222.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 14, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 3, 2018
Publication Date Aug 10, 2018
Journal British Dental Journal
Print ISSN 0007-0610
Electronic ISSN 1741-7503
Publisher Springer Nature [academic journals on]
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 225
Issue 3
Pages 218-222
Keywords cleft lip and palate, oral health, treatment, training
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author's accepted manuscript. The final published version is available here:
Corporate Creators : The VTCT Foundation Research Team at the Centre for Appearance Research


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