Cleft Lip and Palate
What is a Cleft Lip and Palate?
A cleft lip is an upper lip that is split—a failure of the two sides of the face to properly unite during pregnancy. Similarly, a cleft palate occurs when there is an opening between the roof of your mouth, and the floor of your nose, another condition that forms during pregnancy. Although the exact reason for these conditions is still unknown, they tend to run in families. They may also be the result of nutritional deficiencies, certain medications, and hormonal conditions.
It is easy to know if your child has a cleft lip. In fact, the doctor who delivers your baby will probably be able to tell right away. A cleft palate can vary in size and may be a little more difficult to discern. However, the problem is likely to be apparent very soon after birth.
A child born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both, may experience difficulties with eating, breathing, speaking, and self-confidence. Correcting the condition is integral to your child’s well-being, and luckily, easier than ever before. Our dentists and the rest of our team are dedicated to making sure no child has to live with the problems of a cleft lip or palate.
Cleft Lip Repair
Cleft lips are usually repaired within the first six months of life. During the first few months, your child’s nutrition, weight gain, and ability to breathe should be monitored closely.
There are some techniques we can use to repair a cleft lip, the most common being rotation advancement repair. During surgery, the dentist will make an incision on each side of the cleft from the nostril to the lip. The two sides are then sutured together to close the lip. We may need to rearrange tissue from other areas to align the muscles of the upper lip. Often, we perform a primary nasal repair at the same time. This involves realigning the nasal elements to a more suitable configuration using sutures or stents. If your child has a bilateral cleft lip (gaps in the lip and palate), we may need to perform a second surgery.
Cleft Palate Repair
Cleft palate repair is a slightly more complicated surgery that occurs on their first birthday. At this age, children are typically able to better tolerate the surgery, leading to a healthier outcome.
While there are some techniques that can be used to repair a cleft palate, the two most common are V-Y-pushback and Z-plasty. During these procedures, the dentist closes the palate layer by layer. The three layers include the oral mucosa, the muscles at the back of the palate, and the layer that forms the nasal lining. The dentist closes all three layers, while realigning the palatal muscles. Putting the muscles in the accurate position will allow the palate to function properly during chewing, swallowing, and speech. Palate correction also encourages proper facial growth and tooth development.
Schedule an Appointment
If your child has a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both, schedule a consultation with us, by calling (469) 757-4433.