Making Smiles Come True

Early Dentistry Interest

North Shore Orthodontist Dr. Paul Pocock was just 13 and living in Wales when he attended a job fair. One career stood out – Dentistry. “It was hands on and artistic; that intrigued me,” said Paul. As a London-schooled dental graduate, Pocock undertook a residency at the city’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. It was here that he first encountered babies with cleft lip and palate, an affliction requiring complex care from a number of health specialists over decades.

Pocock Becomes Renown

After moving to Canada and setting up his practice, Pocock continued treating children with cleft lip and palate, becoming renowned in a technique called Nasoalveolar Molding (NAM). The technique involves creating an acrylic plate for the mouth with a nasal Stint for babies aged one week to four months. This allows the upper jaw, lip and nose to be reshaped while the baby’s bone and cartilage are still growing. The next major surgical intervention is to the palate at age one, followed by a third intervention at age seven to nine, when a bone graft is placed in the jaw to provide a foundation for the permanent teeth.

Cleft Palate & Craniofacial Disorders Program

Today Dr. Pocock is part of the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Disorders Program which is made up of pediatricians, nurses, speech pathologists, social workers, ear, nose and throat surgeons as well as audiologists. Together they work collaboratively on a designated floor at BC Children’s Hospital. The reputation of the program reaches far beyond provincial borders.

Vietnam Has Double the Rate of Cleft Palate

Over the last few years, Dr. Pocock has been working with a team in Vietnam. The ultimate objective is the creation of a new cleft palate centre on one floor of their National Hospital that is based on the BC Children’s Hospital model. The need is great as this disorder in Vietnam is about one in 500 children or double the rate in Canada. This past September, Pocock reunited with seven of the Vietnamese cleft-palate team, who were visiting for further training. Vietnam estimates that their national hospital will be able to treat about 200 babies annually. Dr. Pocock will return to Vietnam this May to attend the 1st Annual National Cleft Lip and Palate Conference, which will proudly showcase the advances in treatment to people from Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. “Such a high level of care is as important for the children of Vietnam” said Paul, “as it is for Canadian kids. This is a great opportunity for kids around the world to get the treatment that will dramatically impact both their appearance and the quality of their lives.”