Health & Lifestyle

July 15, 2015 at 12:02 am

Available Treatment Options for Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

An orofacial cleft is characterized by an opening in a baby’s palate or mouth roof and/or the lip. Cleft palate and cleft lip occurs in roughly one or two out of 1,000 newborns in the U.S. alone and is considered a common birth defect. Both of these orofacial clefts are treatable with most children being subjected to oral surgery for repairing their cleft before one or two years of age.

Oral Surgery for Cleft Lift and Palate Repair

Cleft lips are normally repaired through oral surgery in a hospital and under general anesthesia for children aged three to six months old. Special procedures such as a molding plate or lip adhesion for bringing together the lip parts prior to being completely repaired may be used if the cleft lip is considered to be wider than normal. This will be determined by the oral surgeon. After surgery, some scarring can occur.

Cleft Lip and Cleft PalateCleft palates, on the other hand, are normally repaired during a child’s 9th to 12th month of life. During surgery, the surgeon will connect the soft palate’s muscles and rearrange tissues within close proximity of the cleft. This is performed under general anesthesia and requires a few days of hospital stay. The main objective of the surgery is to fix the palate for proper speech. But, some children may still sound nasal even after surgery, while some can potentially develop a nasal tone in time. More oral surgeries can be performed as a child’s face structure changes due to aging and these will be recommended by an oral surgeon.

Orthodontic and Dental Treatment

It is crucial to maintain oral health for children following their cleft lip or cleft palate surgery since they are susceptible to a host of dental problems. Regular visits to the dentist and proper oral hygiene should be practiced religiously. In addition, children with cleft lips and cleft palates can start orthodontic treatment beginning at age six. These can include palatal expansions for younger children and braces or dental implants as they grow older.