By Douglas Hackleman - February 13, 2020

With the use of a presurgical nasal aveolar molding (PNAM) appliance, infants born with cleft lip/palate receive functional and remarkably cosmetic corrections through a single surgery.

Nearly forty young LLUSD Department of Pediatric Dentistry cleft lip/palate patients, ranging in age from infant to ten years old, attended with parents or guardians a PNAM 10-Year Anniversary Celebration.

LLUH Centennial Complex fourth floor was the venue.

Along with their loved ones and care providers from the LLUSD Advanced Dental Education Program in Pediatric Dentistry and the LLUCH craniofacial surgery team, the PNAM patient alumni gathered on the Centennial Complex fourth floor Sunday, October 27, 2019, to celebrate the cosmetically successful correction of their congenital cleft lips/palates.

The Presurgical Nasal Alveolar Molding (PNAM) alumni share the distinction of having their cleft lips/cleft palates repaired through the uniquely effective, minimally traumatizing PNAM treatment provided by the pediatric dentists and residents at the School of Dentistry’s Advanced Dental Education Program in Pediatric Dentistry directed by PNAM specialist Jung-Wei Chen, DDS, MS, MS, PhD. The School of Dentistry’s PNAM program is unique in the Inland Empire of Southern California as an entity where children born with cleft lip/palate, supported by DentiCal, are able to obtain the best possible corrective care for one of the more common (and disfiguring) birth defects.

PNAM alumni celebrants and their care providers were treated to a three-hour fair with games and activities—Double Shot Basketball, Toothbrush Ring Toss, Skee Ball, face painting, balloon artistry, coloring stations—and more food than they could eat.

LLUSD Dean Robert Handysides, DDS’93, was “delighted to welcome such a diverse young crowd of success stories” to such a happy occasion. He particularly was pleased “to be able to see first-hand, up close and personal, what the LLU School of Dentistry’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry, the craniofacial team at the Children’s Hospital, and our community sponsors have been able to accomplish with these precious young lives.”

Dean Handysides looks on as Dr. Hart congratulates Dr. Chen on the success of the PNAM program.

There also were words of welcome and appreciation from LLUH President Richard Hart, MD, DrPH, who expressed gratefulness particularly to the founders of Shawnee’s Smile, parents of a daughter born with a cleft palate who received amazing care at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital and created the charity for others affected with craniofacial issues.

Appreciation was also expressed for a donation to the Eric M. Olsen Cleft Lip & Palate Fund that improves children’s opportunities to go through life looking so approachable, and to the California Society of Pediatric Dentistry Foundation which raises funds to support the improvement of education in pediatric dentistry in California at every level.

Dr. Hart was gratified by how PNAM patients represent an emphasis on “‘One Loma Linda’—this collaboration of clinicians, schools, and departments that have brought healing to these little ones.”

Dr. Chen recounted stories of patients and their families’ courage and grit as they struggled, with the help of the LLU pediatric dentists and craniofacial team, to surmount the considerable challenges that a cleft lip/palate baby can present. Dr. Chen also moderated heartfelt remarks by a number of grateful parents.

Pre-surgical Nasal Alveolar Molding (PNAM), a pre-surgical orthopedic treatment of the cleft lip and palate, has become the treatment of choice for a growing number of craniofacial teams that have seen the benefits of utilizing a nasal alveolar molding appliance prior to surgical lip repair.

Presurgical nasal aveolar molding (PNAM) appliance

When in three to five months the PNAM appliance has done its work, it requires only one surgical procedure to complete a cosmetically optimal correction of the baby’s cleft lip/palate.

LLUH is proud to provide this PNAM treatment that demonstrates the spirit of One Loma Linda through the collaboration of an interschool, interprofessional team that adds so significantly to the lives of these young patients.