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Understanding Cleft Lip and Palate Treatment

Posted on 10/31/2023 by Parkside Dental
Young girl covering her mouth at Parkside DentalCleft lip and palate are common congenital conditions that require complex, staged treatment from infancy into adulthood. Gaining an overview of the reconstruction process helps inform and support parents of children born with clefts.

Cleft Lip Repair Surgery

The initial surgery to repair a cleft lip usually occurs around 3-6 months of age. This surgery fixes the separated lip elements, bringing the muscles together correctly. General anesthesia is used for comfort. Additional minor revisions may follow.

Cleft Palate Repair

Closing the opening in the roof of the mouth, known as the palate, is also done surgically, typically between 9-12 months old. This repair rebuilds the palate's structure for proper eating and speech development. Later procedures may optimize the palate shape.

Orthodontic Tooth Alignment

Children with clefts frequently have misaligned teeth due to an imbalance in jaw growth. Moving the teeth into the proper position requires several phases of orthodontic appliances like braces and retainers. This begins around age 8 with a palatal expander that widens the upper jaw.

Speech Therapy

The palate plays an integral role in speech, so therapy helps children with repaired cleft palates develop clear articulation, language, and sounds. Ongoing therapy maximizes abilities through growth milestones.

Additional Surgical Procedures

As the child grows, supplemental procedures refine appearance and function. Common interventions include nasal sculpting, lip scar revisions, bone grafting, correcting malocclusion, and rhinoplasty for older teens. Timing depends on growth factors.

Social and Emotional Support

Raising a child with clefts brings unique challenges. Joining support groups helps parents share experiences. Social workers and psychologists provide emotional assistance and help children adjust and thrive.

With comprehensive team care over time, children born with cleft conditions can enjoy rich, fulfilling lives. Each phase of intervention builds toward the ultimate goal of health and confidence.

Parkside Dental

703 E. FM 544 Suite 100
Murphy, TX 75094

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