Cleft lip and palate are common birth conditions that affect the way a baby’s mouth and palate form during pregnancy. If your child is born with a cleft lip or palate, you will likely have an oral and maxillofacial surgeon as part of your treatment team.
Cleft lip and palate conditions happen early in the pregnancy. The two sides of a baby’s face usually form separately, then join in the middle. When the two sides of the face don’t join properly, a cleft or split is formed. The space in the palate can create a passage between the mouth and the nasal cavity, making eating and speaking normally difficult, if not impossible. Luckily, most cleft lip and palate patients can achieve normal facial function and appearance with treatment.
Cleft Lip Treatment
Cleft lip surgery is meant to close the gap between the two sides of the upper lip, restoring the overall function and appearance of the mouth and lips. If the nostril was affected by the cleft, an additional surgery might be necessary to correct the shape of the nose. Usually, a child with a cleft lip has their initial surgery around the age of 3 months. Sometimes one surgery is enough to repair the cleft, but in other cases, an additional procedure may be required later in life.
Cleft Palate Treatment
If a child has a cleft lip and palate, or just a cleft palate, the treatment is usually more extensive than just a cleft lip alone. This is because the bone in the roof of the mouth must be altered, which takes longer than repairing softer tissues. The first surgery will likely occur when the child is between 7 and 18 months old. This procedure is meant to create a functional palate and prevent passage from the mouth into the nasal cavity. Sometimes a small opening will form in the palate some years after this initial repair surgery, which may require an additional procedure later on. If the bone in the mouth is not the right shape, another surgery may be necessary to prepare for the growth of the permanent teeth when the child is 8 or 9 years old. Most of the time, two or more surgeries are necessary throughout childhood and adolescence to fully treat a cleft palate.
Cleft Treatment at Arizona Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons
If you live near Tucson, AZ, or Oro Valley, AZ, and your child needs Alveolar Cleft treatment, our surgeons may be able to help! For patients requiring cleft lip or palate treatment, our office can assist you in contacting the local cleft lip and palate team. We understand that every parent wants the best treatment for their child, and our oral surgeons will be happy to discuss the treatment process with you. Contact one of our offices to learn more.