Present at birth, a baby could be born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both. The severity of a cleft varies from patient to patient. Fortunately, it is a common congenital deformity that can be corrected with surgery.

Treating a Cleft Lip and Palate

Babies with a cleft lip or palate can experience difficulties with eating, sleeping, and breathing. As the child develops, there may be impairments of speech as well. Children with a cleft lip or palate are also more prone to ear infections. Thankfully, surgical correction is very successful at restoring these functions.

Most cleft palates are treated through a series of surgeries as the child’s facial structure develops, with the first surgery between the age of 6 and 12 months. The goal of the first procedure is to close the cleft and repair the muscles of the soft palate. An additional procedure is usually necessary when the child is between 8 and 12 years of age and involves bone grafting of the palate.

A cleft lip may be surgically corrected in one procedure, but additional surgeries may be needed as the child develops. The first surgery usually takes place during infancy, between 1 and 4 months of age. Depending on the child’s condition, supplemental treatments may be recommended, such as hearing aids or speech therapy.

When you come to Whitewater Oral Surgery Group, your oral surgeon will perform a complete oral exam, review and order any X-rays or 3D imaging, discuss options for anesthesia, and design a comprehensive treatment plan specific to your child’s condition.