Cleft lip and cleft palate are oral and facial conditions that an infant can develop during pregnancy. Sometimes, when the two sides of the face are forming, the two sides of the lip or palate do not meet properly, resulting in a cleft or split lip or palate. It is possible to have a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both, and the course of treatment depends on the patient’s condition.
A cleft lip or palate can cause a variety of health problems, including but not limited to the following:
- Problems Eating and Drinking Normally. The palate is the bone on the roof of your mouth. It separates the mouth from the nasal cavities. When there is a cleft in the palate, there is nothing to keep foods and liquids from passing up through the nose, which makes eating and drinking extremely difficult.
- Speech and Breathing Problems. The lip and palate are both crucial in making many of the sounds required in normal speech. While surgery can sometimes correct speech issues, some cases require a speech specialist to help treat the patient’s condition. Cleft lip and palate can also make breathing normally difficult.
- Hearing Problems and Ear Infections. Children with a cleft palate are more likely to have middle ear problems because of excess fluid buildup. They are also more likely to develop ear infections, which can lead to the loss of hearing if not treated properly.
- Oral Health Problems. Children with cleft palates can have a variety of oral health problems associated with the cleft, such as having an excess amount of cavities, missing or extra teeth, misaligned or malformed teeth, or even alveolar ridge defects. Oral surgeons are often a part of the treatment process when the teeth and facial bones require extensive care.
How is a cleft lip or a cleft palate treated?
Usually, cleft lip or palate treatment involves a team of doctors with different specialties, and oral surgeons are an integral part of this treatment team. At Pacific Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, we will work together with your team of doctors to repair the cleft lip or cleft palate and correct some of the problems associated with the condition.
Cleft palate and cleft lip cases typically require multiple surgeries at different stages of the patient’s life. The first procedures occur during the child’s first year, and they involve closing the lip and forming a functional palate. More surgeries may be necessary later in the child’s life and even into early adulthood, depending on the severity of the condition. Most children with cleft lip and palate can achieve normal speech, eating, and breathing after undergoing surgical and other specialized treatments.
We offer surgical treatments for cleft lip, cleft palate, and associated conditions in our practice.
If your child requires oral surgery treatment, we will work with you and your team of doctors to achieve outstanding results. Our oral surgeons understand how to account for a child’s growth and development stage when performing pediatric surgery. Contact one of our offices in Auburn, WA, Federal Way, WA, Renton, WA, or Maple Valley, WA, for more information about cleft palate and cleft lip treatment.