Cleft Lip & Palate Repair
It is our goal to keep your mouth healthy, your teeth fully functional, and your smile bright — and we are proud of all the services we offer to do exactly that. At the same time, we want you to understand all that modern dentistry in general has to offer you. To that end, we have assembled a first-rate dental library in which you can find a wealth of information on various dental topics, including:
From a thorough professional cleaning to a full smile makeover, there is an amazing array of services that cosmetic and general dentists offer to make sure your teeth stay healthy, function well and look great. If your smile is not all you want it to be, this is the place to start. Read more about Cosmetic & General Dentistry.
When you have a dental emergency — whether it's caused by a sudden accident or chronic disease — your teeth and/or the tissues of the mouth that surround them need to receive proper care right away. It's also important to be aware, before you're actually in the situation, of what you can do to ensure the best outcome. Read more about Emergency Dental Care.
This is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the inside of the tooth — specifically the root canals and sensitive, inner pulp (nerve) tissue. When this tissue becomes inflamed or infected, a root canal procedure may become necessary. But contrary to the popular myth, a root canal doesn't cause pain, it relives it. Read more about Endodontics.
If you are missing one or more teeth, dental implants offer the comfort and security of a permanent replacement that looks and functions just like your natural teeth. Dental implants also help preserve the tooth-supporting bone in your jaw that naturally deteriorates when even one tooth is lost. Read more about Implant Dentistry.
Oral health is an essential component of general health and well-being. Good oral health means a mouth that's free of disease; a bite that functions well enough for you to eat without pain and get ample nutrition; and a smile that lets you express your happiest emotions with confidence. Read more about Oral Health.
A major goal of modern dentistry is to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime. By following a conscientious program of oral hygiene at home, and coming to the dental office for routine cleanings and exams, you have the best chance of making this goal a reality. Read more about Oral Hygiene.
The word “surgery” often brings to mind a stay in the hospital, general anesthesia, and perhaps a lengthy recovery period. However, the experience of having oral surgery is usually very different from that. Some common oral surgery procedures include: tooth extractions, dental implant placement, and biopsies of suspicious oral lesions. Read more about Oral Surgery.
Adults and kids alike can benefit from the boost in self-confidence that comes from having a great-looking smile with beautifully aligned teeth. Orthodontic treatment can even improve chewing, speaking and oral hygiene in certain cases. And with today's virtually invisible orthodontic appliances, it's possible to keep your treatment a private matter… until your new smile is unveiled, of course! Read more about Orthodontics.
It's never too early to get your child started on the path toward a lifetime of good oral health, and there are many services to do exactly that. Monitoring your child's dental growth and development, and preventing and intercepting dental diseases along the way, is the primary focus of pediatric dentistry. Read more about Pediatric Dentistry.
If you want to keep your teeth for life — a completely reasonable goal in this day and age — you need to make sure the tissues that surround them are also healthy. Should gum problems arise, you may need periodontal therapy to restore diseased tissues to health. Read more about Periodontal Therapy.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common birth defects, estimated to affect around one in 700-800 babies born in North America. Both problems result from the incomplete formation of anatomical structures (the lips and the palate, or “roof of the mouth”) which develop during early pregnancy. These conditions may occur separately or together, and they can have a wide variation in severity. With proper treatment, however, in most cases the child has an excellent chance of leading a healthy, normal life.
Besides the noticeable irregularity in appearance, a cleft lip or palate can cause difficulties with feeding and speech. Both conditions are also associated with ear infections, hearing loss and dental problems. To fully address these problems, a child may require several surgical procedures, performed at different times. That's why a team approach is often used to treat this complex condition. Members of the medical team may include an oral surgeon, a pediatric dentist, an orthodontist, a plastic surgeon, and other specialists.
In general, the first goal of treatment is to repair or “close” the gap in the lip and/or palate as soon as it is practical for the child — as early as 2 to 9 months of age. Follow-up treatment may be needed to restore the appropriate form and function of the lips, teeth, and jaws (for proper speech, eating, etc) and to correct hearing problems. These procedures may include plastic surgery, orthodontics, orthognathic (jaw) surgery and speech therapy.
Surgical Treatment for Cleft Lip or Palate
Cleft lip or palate surgery is usually performed in a hospital setting, and may be done when an infant is 6 to 12 weeks old. Intravenous sedation or general anesthesia is used, so your child won't experience any pain. In cleft lip surgery, an incision is typically made on each side of the cleft. This creates several “flaps” of tissue, which are then sutured (stitched) together to close the gap. Suture lines are generally planned to follow the facial contours, so that the surgical scar will be as unobtrusive as possible.
Cleft palate treatment involves rebuilding the roof of the mouth, including soft tissue, muscle and bone. The initial surgery is often performed between the ages of 6 and 18 months. Like cleft lip surgery, it relies on specialized “flap” techniques to reposition soft tissues and close the gap. Before or after surgery, your child may need to wear a special appliance such as an obdurator (artificial palate) or a nasal alveolar molding device (NAM), a type of retainer.
Depending on how complex the child's condition is, additional procedures may be required after the initial treatment to fully correct any defects. A child's treatment plan will often include pediatric dental examinations beginning around age one. Bone grafts to repair the hard palate may be recommended at age 8-11 years, when the cuspid teeth are developing. To correct problems with the alignment of teeth, orthodontic care may be needed beginning around age 12. In some situations, orthognathic surgery is recommended to address more severe jaw problems.
Handling a child's cleft lip or palate can be a challenge for caregivers and family members — but it's important to keep in mind that this relatively common birth defect can be successfully treated. Many who have this condition have gone on to become well-known performers, politicians, sports stars… as well as moms and dads, friends and neighbors.
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