Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip (cont.)
In this Article
- What is a cleft palate and cleft lip?
- Who gets cleft lip and cleft palate?
- What causes a cleft lip and cleft palate?
- How are cleft lip and cleft palate diagnosed?
- What problems are associated with cleft lip and/or cleft palate?
- Who treats children with cleft lip and/or cleft palate?
- What's the treatment for cleft lip and cleft palate?
- What is the prognosis for children with cleft lip and/or cleft palate?
- Do children with cleft lips or cleft palates have special dental needs?
- Find a local Plastic Surgeon in your town
What's the Treatment for Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate?
A cleft lip may require one or two surgeries depending on the extent of the repair needed. The initial surgery is usually performed by the time a baby is 3 months old.
Repair of a cleft palate often requires multiple surgeries over the course of 18 years. The first surgery to repair the palate usually occurs when the baby is between 6 and 12 months old. The initial surgery creates a functional palate, reduces the chances that fluid will develop in the middle ears, and aids in the proper development of the teeth and facial bones.
Children with a cleft palate may also need a bone graft when they are about 8 years old to fill in the upper gum line so that it can support permanent teeth and stabilize the upper jaw. About 20% of children with a cleft palate require further surgeries to help improve their speech.
Once the permanent teeth grow in, braces are often needed to straighten the teeth.
Additional surgeries may be performed to improve the appearance of the lip and nose, close openings between the mouth and nose, help breathing, and stabilize and realign the jaw. Final repairs of the scars left by the initial surgery will probably not be performed until adolescence, when the facial structure is more fully developed.
What Is the Outlook for Children With Cleft Lip and/or Cleft Palate?
Although treatment for a cleft lip and/or cleft palate may extend over several years and require several surgeries depending upon the involvement, most children affected by this condition can achieve normal appearance, speech, and eating.
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