Cleft Lip & Palate
Comprehensive Care for Children Born With Clefts
During the early stages of pregnancy, a child’s face develops in separate parts and eventually joins together. If the sections do not meet, a gap or cleft is created. Cleft lip refers to a gap in the upper lip and cleft palate refers to a gap in the roof of the mouth. A child may develop a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both. Treatment for cleft lip and palate enables the child to achieve proper oral function and aesthetically pleasing results, as well as prevents future health complications.
Our team at Golden Foothills Oral, Facial, & Dental Implant Surgery treats cleft lip and palate in El Dorado Hills, Folsom, and Auburn, CA. We understand the delicate nature of these cases and our surgeons, Dr. Liberty, Dr. Song, and Dr. Fedorowicz, along with our incredible team, provide continuous support for our young patients and their families at every step. If your child requires treatment for cleft lip or palate, contact our office for a consultation with one of our board-certified specialists.
Treatment for cleft lip and palate involves a team of doctors and specialists. As oral surgeons, we contribute to the surgical procedures and treatment planning aspects of your child’s treatment. Pediatricians, orthodontists, speech therapists, hearing specialists, psychologists, and other experts may also make up your child’s care team.
What Is a Cleft Lip?
A cleft lip is a gap in the upper lip between the mouth and nose. It can range from a slight notch to a complete separation of the lip that extends up and into the nose. A child may have a cleft lip under one nostril, known as a unilateral cleft, or on both sides, known as a bilateral cleft. Many cases of cleft lip can be detected in an ultrasound around the thirteenth week of pregnancy.
In order to nurse properly and form sounds during speech, a child requires a completely formed lip. Leaving a cleft lip untreated can lead to the child’s teeth developing incorrectly. There is a higher risk of tooth decay and speech problems, and the child may experience lower self-esteem if facial aesthetics are not repaired.
Treatment for a Cleft Lip
Prior to performing any surgery for cleft lip or cleft palate repair, we will take 3D scans of the child’s mouth and face to create a detailed surgical guide. We will also discuss anesthesia options to ensure a comfortable experience for your child.
To treat a cleft lip, our surgeons perform cleft lip surgery when the child is around between 3 and 6 months old. This procedure aims to close the gap, restore muscle function, and improve the appearance of the mouth. In some cases, the child will need a second surgery to repair the lip several months after the initial surgery. Many children born with a cleft lip are able to achieve normal oral function and aesthetically pleasing results after treatment.
What Is a Cleft Palate?
A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. It can range from a gap at the opening of the soft palate to an almost complete separation of the roof of the mouth. A cleft palate that occurs without a cleft lip can be difficult to detect in an ultrasound and may not be discovered until the child is born.
A complete palate is necessary to separate the nasal cavity from the mouth. The palate plays an important role during speech by preventing air from blowing out of your nose instead of your mouth. It also prevents food and liquids from entering the nose. Children with a cleft palate have an increased risk of developing ear infections, which can lead to hearing loss if left untreated. Surgery to repair a cleft palate is necessary to improve the child’s ability to eat, speak, and breathe.
Treatment for a Cleft Palate
To treat a cleft palate, our surgeons perform cleft palate repair surgery when the child is about 12 months old. Many children with a cleft palate also need tubes placed in the eardrums to drain fluid and should undergo hearing tests annually. If necessary, ear tubes are placed at the same time as the palate repair surgery.
The child will often undergo a speech assessment around the age of 5 to determine if additional surgery is necessary to improve speech. After the necessary treatment, many children born with a cleft palate resume normal lives and are able to maintain normal oral function and develop proper speaking abilities.
Cleft Lip & Palate in El Dorado Hills, Folsom, and Auburn, CA
Our team at Golden Foothills Oral, Facial, & Dental Implant Surgery is here to provide the highest level of care and support for your entire family. We are experts at managing cleft lip and palate cases and are exceptionally talented at working with young children to create positive, comfortable oral surgery experiences and fantastic results. Contact us in El Dorado Hills, Folsom, or Auburn today if your child requires treatment for a cleft lip or cleft palate.
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The New Standard of Oral Surgery and Patient Care
We are honored to be a part of the greater Sacramento area and help others improve their health and confidence through oral and maxillofacial surgery. Please contact us in El Dorado Hills, Folsom, or Auburn today to learn more about our services or to schedule your consultation.