Drs. Lieblich, Fletcher, and Gill of Avon Oral, Facial and Dental Implant Surgery are proud to provide compassionate and skillful oral surgery services to patients of all ages, including young children and infants. Oral surgeons are an essential part of the care team involved in the repair of cleft lip and palate. Our surgeons work closely with parents, children, and pediatricians to form treatment plans that consider everything from optimal facial aesthetics to growth and development for long-term functionality. Our surgical team has extensive experience treating cleft lip and palate and has specialty training in the safe and effective administration of anesthesia for our pediatric patients. Our team will continuously monitor your child during their procedures, providing the care and expertise that your child deserves.
Cleft lip and cleft palate can develop in early pregnancy when the two sides of a fetus’ face are forming. It is possible to have both a cleft lip and a cleft palate, as well as one or the other. The surgery to repair a cleft lip is slightly less involved than the surgery to repair a cleft palate. Both treatments offer beautiful and functional results for our patients and should begin as early as possible — pediatric treatments such as these carefully factor in the development of the growing child to maximize function and aesthetics. It also is also recommended that children be treated early so that they can benefit from normal speech, eating, and breathing as they grow.
How is a cleft lip or a cleft palate treated?
The process for treating cleft palate and cleft lip will span several years of the patient’s life, preferably commencing in the child’s first year. A series of surgeries may be required throughout childhood and adolescence to account for the child’s development, depending on the type of condition they have and the surgery they require.
Cleft Lip Treatment
Your child’s medical care team will generally schedule your child’s initial cleft lip surgery before the age of 3 months. This procedure will carefully close the divide between the two sides of the upper lip and can offer dramatic improvement in your infant’s ability to feed properly and later will allow your child to develop normal speech. Additional surgery may occur to make final adjustments to the area before your child embarks on adolescence and begins to grow and develop more quickly.
Cleft Palate Treatment
The surgery for a cleft palate — or when there is a cleft palate along with a cleft lip — is a bit more complex than a cleft lip alone. A cleft palate surgery involves the bone at the roof of the mouth (the palate), and bone requires more healing time and more involved repair than soft tissues. The initial cleft palate procedure will usually be scheduled when your child is between 7 and 18 months old and will repair the palate and any abnormal openings that have occurred from the oral cavity into the nasal cavity. This procedure improves breathing and oral function and will help your child to have normal speech development. Later, there may be an additional surgery needed to account for your child’s growth. Additionally, when your child is approaching the age when the permanent teeth begin to emerge, another surgery is often required to prepare the mouth for these changes. This procedure usually occurs around age 8 or 9.
Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Treatment
If your child requires surgical treatment for cleft lip and cleft palate, we will work closely with your child’s medical care team to achieve the very best results. As oral and maxillofacial surgeons with specialty training, Dr. Lieblich, Dr. Fletcher, and Dr. Gill understand the growth of the face and how the facial bones, muscles, and other structures develop over time in their pediatric patients. They are trained in pediatric anesthesia and life support to ensure that your child is safe throughout their treatment. If you have further questions about the treatment of cleft palate and cleft lip at our practice, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our surgeons are available to meet with you and your family to discuss treatment and create a personalized surgical plan for your child. Thank you for trusting your family’s care to the team at Avon Oral, Facial and Dental Implant Surgery.