The treatment of a cleft lip or cleft palate usually involves at least one procedure performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Our doctors understand that the patient and their parents are an important part of the care team, and our staff will work hand in hand with the pediatrician and other specialists to form the best plan for every child.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are two separate conditions that can develop during early pregnancy when the two sides of a baby’s face start to meet. Cleft lip surgeries differ from cleft palate treatments, which tend to be more involved, although it is possible to have both a cleft lip and a cleft palate at the same time. We’ve provided some additional information below about how oral surgeons help treat each of these conditions.
Cleft Lip Treatment
Cleft lip surgery usually occurs before the age of 3 months. The goal of the procedure is to close the divide between the two sides of the upper lip. When successful, patients experience a dramatic improvement in everyday functions such as eating and speaking. Sometimes an additional surgery may occur at age 10 to make any final adjustments to the lip or nostril area before the child starts transitioning into adolescence and growing more rapidly.
Cleft Palate Treatment
If a child has a cleft lip and palate, or just a cleft palate, the treatment is usually more extensive than a cleft lip alone. This procedure is more extensive because the surgical area includes the bone in the roof of the mouth, which takes longer than repairing softer tissues. The first surgery will likely occur when the child is between 7 and 18 months old. This treatment 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 adequately treat a cleft palate.
Cleft Lip and Palate Treatment at Southern Surgical Arts
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained to understand the balance between facial bones, muscles, and other structures. Our surgeons are also trained in pediatric anesthesia and life support to ensure the safety of your child throughout the treatment process. Cleft lip and palate surgeries restore your child’s oral function and appearance, and our surgeons understand how to take your child’s growing face into account when planning treatment. To learn more about cleft lip and palate treatments, contact our office in Tyler, TX, or in Palestine, TX.