Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects that affect young children during pregnancy. These birth defects are identified through facial and oral malformations, which occur due to the lack of tissue (to support development) or when tissue does not fuse together properly. When there is an opening that separates the upper lip into two sides, it is referred to as a cleft lip. The opening can sometimes extend all the way to the upper gums or jaw.
Similarly, an opening or split in the roof of the mouth is referred to as a cleft palate. A cleft palate can either affect the soft palate (back portion of the roof of the mouth) or the hard palate (front portion of the roof of the mouth).
Cleft lips or cleft palate can occur on either side of the mouth or on both sides. It is also possible to develop both these conditions simultaneously.
What can be done?
- Cleft lip: Treatment for cleft lip boils down to surgery. The first surgery is usually carried out when the child is 3 months old. Another surgery maybe advised at a later stage depending on the severity of the condition.
- Cleft palate: For a cleft palate, multiple surgeries over a period of 18 years are required. The initial surgery is carried out when the child is 6 months to a year old. An initial cleft palate surgery focuses on providing the child with a functional palate, minimizing fluid collection in the ears, and aiding proper development of bones and teeth.
After the age of 8, children with cleft palates will require a bone graft in the upper gum area. This is done to strengthen the jaw and to support teeth permanently. After which, braces may be used for teeth straightening. Further procedures may be carried out to help with speech impairment.
During adolescence, procedures maybe carried out to improve appearance, correct scars from earlier procedures, improve breathing, address jaw realignment etc.
Need more information on treatment for cleft lip and cleft palate for kids? Contact Dr. Andrew Trussler
For more information on Treatment for cleft lip and cleft palate for kids, contact Dr. Andrew Trussler. We are located in Austin and can be contacted at 512.450.1077. We look forward to hearing from you.