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Although many orofacial anomalies are currently managed, rather than treated, the rapid advance of science—such as the ability to identify mutated genes— promise future cures and treatments that will eliminate or reduce the number of defects currently seen. Gene therapy may also someday be applied to the treatment of many craniofacial anomalies, both to repair congenital defects and to accelerate healing after trauma. Gene mapping may also help doctors know which patients are susceptible to what type of anomalies.
The NIDCR is the primary sponsor of craniofacial research and training in the United States. The institute supports a variety of projects, including basic studies of cell migration and differentiation, cell signaling, patterns of gene expression, growth factor effects, tooth formation and eruption, and bone formation. These studies explore the genetic and molecular mechanisms behind craniofacial abnormalities and are intended to prevent or correct the anomaly or improve the patient's ability to function with it.
No one specialist can provide the range of treatment that is frequently needed for many dental anomalies. The most effective management is accomplished with a team of professionals who can render a comprehensive diagnosis, determine treatment needs and priorities, and supervise long-term planning. A list of physicians and specialists required to treat a craniofacial deformity might include: plastic surgeon, otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist), audiologist, speech-language pathologist, oral/maxillofacial surgeon, orthodontist, pediatric/family dentist, dental hygienist, prosthodontist, geneticist/genetic counselor.
The ADA advises dentists to discourage patients from using tobacco and illicit drugs, and to emphasize sound nutrition to maintain oral health and prevent nutritional anomalies. The NIDCR encourages clinical studies to diagnose genetic anomalies, decrease environmental risks, and improve treatment. Genetic counseling, mapping, and testing can help prevent dental anomalies in the next generation of children.
Anomaly—A deformity or abnormality.
Bridge—A dental prosthesis covering an open space in the mouth.
Cementum—A bony substance that covers the root of the tooth.
Condyle—The uppermost end of the mandible that sits in the zygomatic arch and allows the jaw to move.
Congenital—Present at birth; a nonhereditary condition acquired in utero.
Crown—1. The natural part of the tooth covered by enamel. 2. A restorative, protective shell that fits over a diseased or malformed tooth.
Decalcification—The wearing away of the enamel on the teeth.
Etiology—Cause or origin.
Extraction—Removal of the tooth.
Genetic—Inherited from the parents.
Mandible—Jaw, especially the lower jawbone.
Maxillary—Relating to the upper jaw region.
Maxillary central incisors—The front teeth on the upper jaw.
Maxillary lateral incisors—The teeth on the right and left quadrants of the upper jaw next to the front centrals.
Root canal therapy—Removal of the pulp of a tooth.
Veneer—A thin porcelain overlay that covers only the anterior surface of a tooth.
Author Info: Cindy F. Ovard, RDA, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, 2002This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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