Craniofacial malformations and their association with brain development: the importance of a multidisciplinary approach for treatment

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10 Scopus citations


The craniofacial complex develops mainly in the first trimester of pregnancy, but its final shaping and the development of the teeth extend into the second and third trimesters. It is intimately connected with the development of the brain because of the crucial role the cranial neural crest cells play and the fact that many signals which control craniofacial development originate in the brain and vice versa. As a result, malformations of one organ may affect the development of the other. Similarly, there are developmental connections between the craniofacial complex and the teeth. Craniofacial anomalies are either isolated, resulting from abnormal development of the first two embryonic pharyngeal arches, or part of multiple malformation syndromes affecting many other organs. They may stem from gene mutations, chromosomal aberrations or from environmental causes induced by teratogens. The craniofacial morphologic changes are generally cosmetic, but they often interfere with important functions such as chewing, swallowing and respiration. In addition, they may cause hearing or visual impairment. In this review we discussed only a small number of craniofacial malformations and barely touched upon related anomalies of dentition. Following a brief description of the craniofacial development, we discussed oral clefts, craniofacial microsomia, teratogens that may interfere with craniofacial development resulting in different malformations, the genetically determined craniosynostoses syndromes and few other relatively common syndromes that, in addition to the craniofacial complex, also affect other organs. The understanding of these malformations is important in dentistry as dentists play an integral role in their diagnosis and multidisciplinary treatment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOdontology / the Society of the Nippon Dental University
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Craniofacial development and malformations
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Microsomia
  • Multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment
  • Oral clefts


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