Press release
Cleft Care

How we can all help improve standards of care for children with clefts to optimize their oral health

Cleft care

FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) releases new educational resources to mark World Smile Day®


Thursday, 30 September 2021 (Geneva, Switzerland)Globally, every three minutes a baby is born with a cleft, that’s 540 babies every day. Babies born with a cleft often struggle to eat, breathe, hear, speak, and thrive. Every child has the right to good oral health, which is why FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) joined forces with Smile Train, to launch new educational resources, aimed at improving the quality of life for people born with clefts.

Cleft lip and palate (clefts) are the most common birth difference of the face and mouth and impact the development of the mouth, gums, and palate. Children with clefts are also uniquely susceptible to poor oral health and are commonly affected by missing, extra, or malformed teeth and facial structures. Even children who receive cleft surgery are at an increased risk for caries, periodontal disease, and other oral health and well-being challenges as they grow and develop.

The resources, which were developed with support from GSK Consumer Healthcare, aim to give every child a reason to smile this World Smile Day® through the delivery of optimal oral healthcare. The material includes guidelines for dentists and other key members of the cleft care team as well as resources for patients, families, and communities, which highlight the importance of oral health, explain the challenges of oral healthcare beyond cleft surgery, and provide vital oral health guidance.  

“As oral health professionals, we know the long-term impact that oral diseases can have on the overall health, development and well-being of children and adults,” said FDI President-Elect Prof. Ihsane Ben Yahya. “By ensuring individuals with cleft receive timely surgery and oral healthcare we can safeguard their integration into society, give them self-confidence and the potential to succeed in their scholarship.”

“The partnership between Smile Train and FDI with the support of GSK Consumer Healthcare, and the resources that have resulted from this shared commitment to advancing oral health for vulnerable populations, will change lives for generations to come,” said Smile Train President and CEO Susannah Schaefer.

GSK Consumer Healthcare has pledged to continue its tremendous support of the initiative between FDI and Smile Train, including the delivery of workshops using the new education resources and the development of an education platform of recorded sessions and family-focused instructional videos on cleft oral health.

"At GSK Consumer Healthcare, we are on a mission to eradicate preventable oral health problems and we believe in the importance of good oral health and hygiene for all, especially for those living with clefts," said GSK Oral Health Lead, Jayant Singh. "Comprehensive cleft care is a key focus of the work we support with Smile Train and FDI. We are proud of the progress being achieved by the release of these resources, which we hope will serve as a transformative and indispensable tool for the entire cleft care team."

Read the resources and start making a difference to the oral health of our future generations. You can also view the webinar to learn more about the content.



About FDI World Dental Federation

FDI is the main representative body for more than one million dentists worldwide, with a vision of leading the world to optimal oral health. Our membership comprises some 200 national member associations and specialist groups in over 130 countries.

About Smile Train

Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive. To learn more about how Smile Train's sustainable approach means donations have both an immediate and long-term impact, visit:

About GSK

GSK is a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer. In 2018, GSK Consumer Healthcare announced a five-year partnership with Smile Train to support their surgical work, medical training, outreach, and comprehensive cleft care programmes.

Media Contacts

Chaz Jagait, FDI Communications and Advocacy Director

Mob.: +41 79 796 76 13



Nijha Diggs, Senior Director, Public Relations, Smile Train