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Aust Dent J. 2010 Mar;55(1):51-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1834-7819.2009.01178.x.

Van der Woude syndrome: dentofacial features and implications for clinical practice.

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  • 1School of Dentistry, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.



Van der Woude syndrome (VWS) is the most common clefting syndrome in humans. It is characterized by the association of congenital lower lip fistulae with cleft lip and/or cleft palate. VWS individuals have a high prevalence of hypodontia. Although caused by a single gene mutation, VWS has variable phenotypic expression. This study aimed to describe the range of clinical presentations in 22 individuals with VWS to facilitate its diagnosis.


A retrospective study of 22 patients with a diagnosis of VWS was undertaken at the Australian Craniofacial Unit (ACFU) in Adelaide. Three extended families with affected members were included in the study cohort.


The overall prevalence of lip pits in this study cohort was 86%. Cleft phenotypes included bilateral cleft lip and palate (32%); unilateral cleft lip and palate (32%); submucous cleft palate (23%); and isolated cleft hard and soft palate (9%). Missing permanent teeth were reported in 86% of affected individuals.


Submucous cleft palate in VWS may go undiagnosed if the lower lip pits are not detected. Associated hypodontia and resultant malocclusions will also require management by a dental team.

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