Cleft lip and palate are birth conditions that affect the development of a child’s mouth. These conditions often require a team of health professionals for successful treatment. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons, such as Dr. Gregory McGee at Rio Grande Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center, are often an essential part of a child’s treatment team when addressing a cleft lip or a cleft palate.
A cleft is one of the most common defects among newborns in the United States and, as such, medical and dental providers are highly trained to repair them. A cleft lip or a cleft palate develops early in the pregnancy when the two sides of the child’s face are forming. When the two sides do not join fully around the mouth, the slow development creates a rift in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate), or both. A cleft lip or palate can make it hard for a child to eat, speak, and breathe properly, especially if the condition is left untreated for too long. If you are seeking treatment for one or both conditions, Dr. McGee can assist in developing and executing the treatment needed to correct the defect.
Treatment for Cleft Lip
The goal of cleft lip surgery is to close the cleft, restore function to the mouth, and create a healthy facial appearance. Usually, the treatment begins with an initial surgery, which takes place when the child is around 2 or 3 months old. An additional operation may be necessary around age 8 or 10 to improve the appearance of the lip or nose before the face becomes more developed and grown-up looking. Surgical intervention is just one part of the treatment process. Typically, pediatricians, ear and nose specialists, speech pathologists, and other experts will all contribute to the treatment plan to restore full function and aesthetics.
Treatment for Cleft Palate
The treatment for a cleft palate is a bit more involved, and it tends to require more procedures than that of a cleft lip. Oral surgeons will usually perform the first surgical procedure when a child is between 7 and 18 months old. The goal of the first surgery is to create a functional palate and close the opening in the roof of the mouth, blocking any potential for food and liquid passage between the nasal cavity and the mouth. Later, when the child is around 8 years old, an additional procedure may be necessary to prepare the mouth for permanent tooth growth. Children with cleft palate often require orthodontic work (braces) to help their teeth grow into the proper position. Much like a cleft lip, a team of specialists will work together to execute the treatment plan and restore function.
Cleft Lip and Palate Treatment in Albuquerque, NM
Every parent wants the best care for their child, and our team at Rio Grande Oral Surgery has years of experience treating patients of all ages. Dr. Gregory McGee will guide and support you and your child throughout the entire treatment process. For more information, contact our office in Albuquerque, NM.