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Apert Syndrome and Maxillofacial Conditions Benefit from Coordinated Care

Jungle Roots is here for you! Any disorder for a newborn can make parents feel many emotions, and we want to do all we can to help you along this journey. We want to do our part to know that your child is getting the best dentistry and orthodontic care. Our entire staff is available to you when you have questions for our first-class clinicians or just want to be reassured that you are doing all you can for your child. You are not alone in expecting that your child deserves our focused attention. Treating every child with the same consideration as we treat our own is our objective.

What is Apert Syndrome?

Let's talk a little about the effects that Apert syndrome and other maxillofacial conditions have on the head and face and our role in helping to correct and maintain your child's oral health when they've been diagnosed with Apert syndrome or other similar disorders. While these conditions can affect many body parts, we will focus on the oral cavity and facial structures.

Apert Syndrome is a condition that a baby is born with that affects many body parts and was named after the French physician Eugene Apert in 1906. It is a genetic disorder that is characterized by skeletal abnormalities. This is not common and happens only in an estimated 1 in 65,000 newborns, and most cases occur in those persons that have no history of it in their family. One of the most prominent features of this syndrome is the early fusion of the skull bones that prevents the head from growing normally. Because of this condition, the shape of the head and face are affected. These are the features that require the attention of our caring dental and orthodontic team in conjunction with your pediatrician and surgeon (1).

Our staff at Jungle Roots can provide a comfortable and safe experience for your child while working to correct the oral issues attributed to Apert syndrome. Their individual needs will be addressed at their regular dental appointments and with the orthodontist, should any corrective treatment or surgical procedure be necessary. Your child's comfort, as well as yours, is of the utmost importance to us. We will provide detailed explanations of any care we feel may benefit your child. You can feel confident that our experienced team will give the best possible care for your child's particular needs.

How Does This Disorder Affect the Head and Face?

The premature fusion of the skull bones is called craniosynostosis and can cause the facial features that you see in a child with Apert syndrome. The child may have a sunken appearance to the middle of their face, and an opening in the roof of their mouth that is called a cleft palate. An underdeveloped upper jaw bone (maxilla) can cause missing or crowded teeth and the irregularity of tooth enamel, which may cause discoloration of the teeth. Some children have a larger number of teeth than those found in other children of their age. In a child with Apert syndrome, you will commonly see an overbite and the inability to close the teeth together. Because the tongue is positioned more toward the front of the mouth, they are more apt to thrust their tongue, which can cause speech and swallowing difficulty. Some children can have about a 1-year delay from others of their age in the eruption of their primary and permanent teeth (1, 2).

Other Maxillofacial Conditions

Symptoms of other similar conditions can benefit from comparable orthodontic intervention and coordinated care as Apert syndrome. The differences are related to the chromosome affected, but all are associated with craniosynostosis. Here is a list of some of these linked genetic disorders (3):

  • Carpenter syndrome
  • Crouzon syndrome
  • Jackson-Weiss syndrome
  • Pfeiffer syndrome
  • Saethre-Chotzen syndrome

How and When does Apert Syndrome Need to be Treated?

Releasing the fusion of the spaces between the skull bones, technically called "cranial sutures," is the first priority to make sure the brain has room within the skull to grow. A surgeon usually performs this surgery when the child reaches six months to eight months of age. The older the child is when the surgery is performed, the greater risk of not being able to advance intellectually. As the child grows, the facial bones can become misaligned. Corrective surgery may be needed between the ages of four and twelve years to bring the bones in the jaw and cheeks forward. Braces or other appliances may need to be placed to manipulate the teeth. Ongoing treatment and maintenance are crucial in deterring other complications (2, 3, 4).

Complications of No Treatment

As a child with Apert syndrome gets older and starts growing, they are at risk of numerous issues due to the malformation of the oral cavity. If they are not under the care of a team of clinicians working to correct at least some of the structural abnormalities, there are hazards. Some are related to mouth breathing, such as abnormal noises or an inconsistent rate. Choking, coughing, and lack of coordination when sucking and swallowing are other concerns that may jeopardize the health of an untreated child with Apert's. We know that this is the last thing you want your child to go through. Let us help guide your child's treatment to stay on the right track for improving your child's oral and overall health (4).

How Can We Help?

Regular and early examinations by our team of experts in oral care will help identify treatments necessary to benefit your child. Restoring the mouth to be more effective in everyday use and preventing other oral issues is the goal.

Once the first teeth have erupted, hygiene and other prophylactic treatment are emphasized. The teeth and gums may need more intentional maintenance, which may be difficult because of the shape of the mouth. Our hygienists can teach you to thoroughly clean the mouth's structures and teach your child when they are old enough to do it themselves. It may be necessary for you to continue to do their oral care because of the effect of Apert syndrome on the arms and hands. Sometimes these structural differences can prevent them from being able to reach their mouths. Fluoride treatments, tooth sealants, and other dentistry and orthodontic approaches may be implemented. The staff and clinicians at Jungle Roots can be involved in systematically managing these treatments from the infancy stage of your child's development to adulthood (2, 3, 4).

Summing it Up

Seeking early intervention for Apert syndrome and any other craniosynostosis disorder is imperative. Jungle Roots will be with you every step of the way! Our highly qualified team is equipped to guide you through the many steps along your child's treatment journey. We can assist you in making a restorative and preventive action plan that will care for your child's needs and help assure you that everything possible is being done to achieve the most favorable outcomes. We understand that you will be facing many challenges in making the quality of life for your child the best achievable one. Working with our group to accomplish precisely that is our goal and yours.

We specialize in making your child's dental and orthodontic experiences comfortable, calming, and positive encounters. Because we provide the highest comprehensive pediatric oral care, we want to be known as your "dental home!" We can address all of your child's dental and orthodontic needs in one place, which makes transitioning through every stage of your child's journey relaxed and easy. Contact Dr. Culp and his staff at Jungle Roots to make this happen!

At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.

Call Us - (480) 759-1119

Sources:

  1. MedlinePlus. National Library of Medicine. Apert Syndrome. Updated August 18, 2020. Accessed March 23, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/apert-syndrome/
  2. Kakutani, H, Sato, Y, Tsukamoto-Takakusagi, Y, Saito, F, Oyama, A, Iida, J. Evaluation of the maxillofacial morphological characteristics of Apert syndrome infants. Congenital Anomalies. 2017; 57(1), 15-23. https://doi.org/10.1111/cga.12180. Accessed March 28, 2022.
  3. Cahn, S, Bellcross, C. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Apert Syndrome. NORD Rare Disease Database. Updated April 10, 2019. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/apert-syndrome/. Accessed April 5, 2022.
  4. López-Estudillo, AS, Rosales-Bérber, MA, Ruiz-Rodríguez, S, Pozos-Guillén, A, Noyola-Frías, MÁ, Garrocho-Rangel, A. Dental approach for Apert syndrome in children: a systematic review. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2017;22(6):e660-e668. Published 2017 Nov 1. https://doi:10.4317/medoral.21628. Accessed March 28, 2022.
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