Cleft lip and palate are birth conditions that affect the development of a child’s mouth. These conditions often require a team of health professionals for successful treatment. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are often an important part of a child’s treatment team for cleft lip or cleft palate.
Cleft lip and palate develop early in the pregnancy when the two sides of the child’s face are forming. Sometimes, the two sides do not join fully around the mouth, creating a rift in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate), or both. Cleft lip and palate can make it hard for a child to eat, speak, and breathe properly, especially if the condition is left untreated for too long.
The goals of cleft lip surgery are to close the cleft in the lips, restore function to the mouth, and create a normal facial appearance. Usually, the initial surgery takes place when the child is around 2 or 3 months old. An additional surgery may be necessary around age 8 or 10 to improve the appearance of the lip or nose before the face becomes more developed and grown-up looking. Generally, surgical treatment will be just a part of the treatment process, which also includes ear and nose specialists, speech pathologists, and other professionals.
Cleft palate treatment is a bit more involved, and it tends to require more procedures than cleft lip treatment. The first cleft palate surgery is usually performed when a child is between 7 and 18 months old. The goal of the surgery is to create a functional palate and close the opening in the roof of the mouth, blocking any potential for food and liquid passage between the nasal cavity and the mouth. Later, when the child is around 8 years old, an additional procedure may be necessary to prepare the mouth for the permanent teeth. Children with cleft palate often require orthodontic work (braces) to help their teeth grow into the proper position.
Every parent wants the best care for their child, and Dr. Robert B. Ioppolo at Hill & Ioppolo Oral & Dental Implant Surgery of Lubbock has years of experience treating patients of all ages. Our staff will guide and support you and your child throughout the entire treatment process. For more information, feel free to give our office in Lubbock, TX, a call. One of our staff members will be happy to assist you.