orthodontist patient_childA recent study finds that while orthodontic residents are motivated to treat patients with cleft lip and palate, they may lack the training and experience. The results of the survey of orthodontic residents in the United States and Canada appear in the Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal.

Respondents were asked if they planned to treat patients with cleft lip and palate, as well as craniofacial anomalies, and special needs such as Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism. Additionally, the 41-item, online survey asked the 208 residents who responded about the importance of serving this group of patients, whether the residents planned to serve patients in their future practices, and if they would charge higher than typical fees.

Nearly 55% of residents said they plan to treat patients with craniofacial anomalies and special needs. However, 58% responded that they would charge a higher fee. Among those who indicated they did not plan to treat these patients, the primary reasons given were inadequate experience and lack of access to an interdisciplinary team.

In addition, nearly half of the residents surveyed were unaware of established fellowship programs focusing on cleft and craniofacial needs. About 29% indicated they would be willing to complete a 1-year fellowship program. Many favored the creation of a subspecialty in orthodontics for treating patients with craniofacial anomalies.