When the two sides of the mouth or lip fail to join properly in the middle during fetal development, a cleft lip and/or palate can occur. A cleft is a split in the lip, the roof of the mouth, or both. A cleft palate is a more severe congenital disability, in which the split at the roof of the mouth makes it impossible to eat or speak normally. Infants with a cleft palate need special bottles and devices to feed. Ear infections, hearing problems, and dental issues are common in children who suffer from a cleft lip and palate.
Treatment of Cleft Lip & Palate
It takes a team of medical and dental professionals of different specialties to treat a cleft lip or palate successfully. Typically, an oral surgeon, speech therapist, ear specialist (an otolaryngologist), and an orthodontist are involved in the treatment of a cleft lip and palate. Depending on the severity of the condition, other specialists may also be involved in the treatment.
Usually, multiple procedures are necessary throughout the child’s development to correct a cleft palate or lip fully. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is often involved in most of these procedures, due to their expert understanding in the oral and facial restoration of all ages, including pediatrics.
Surgical Phase of Treatment
For the treatment of a cleft lip only, the first surgery takes place when the infant is about 3 months of age, sometimes younger. Because cleft palate treatment is more complicated and requires more procedures, the first surgery takes place when the infant is between 6 and 12 months of age. To support the permanent adult teeth that are developing and coming in, another procedure around the age of 8 may be necessary, with additional surgeries after that to restore the function or appearance of the face. Treatment varies for cleft lip and palate, depending on the severity of the condition.
Cleft Lip & Palate
The oral and maxillofacial surgeons at Central Washington Oral & Facial Surgery are dedicated to providing the best possible outcome for all of their patients. Trained and experienced in pediatric cases, including cleft lip and palate, patients and their families are in good hands at our offices in Wenatchee, WA, and Moses Lake, WA. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation and learn more about cleft lip and palate treatments.