The treatment of a child born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate begins at birth and continues into young adulthood. The neonate with cleft palate will require special feeding techniques in order to ensure adequate caloric intake and weight gain. Surgical repair is begun in early infancy, and secondary surgical procedures may be required throughout growth and development. Cleft treatment does not end, however, with operative repair. Comprehensive care of the child with cleft lip and/or palate includes expert professional attention to speech and hearing, dental and orthodontic needs, and psychosocial well-being.
The goal of cleft lip surgery is to restore normal appearance and function to the upper lip. Cleft lip surgery is usually recommended at three to four months of life. In most cases, the tissue in the area around the cleft is rearranged to close the opening. An important part of the surgery involves detaching and repositioning the muscle of the lip to recreate the circular muscle around the mouth. Read more about cleft lip surgery
Cleft palate repair is typically performed on infants that are between 6 and 18 months of age. Since the primary goal of repairing the palate is to avoid any abnormal speech development, the surgery is scheduled earlier before the child develops much speech. Read more about cleft palate surgery
The majority of children born with cleft palate will need speech-language therapy at some point in their life. A speech-language pathologist is the healthcare professional that provides speech-language therapy, which may be in the medical setting, school setting, private clinic, or home-based intervention program. The goals of speech-language therapy are to provide the child with the knowledge and skills to achieve normal speech and communication for their age or developmental level. Read more about speech-language treatment
Your child will be seen before he/she has teeth. The orthodontist will evaluate how your child’s upper and lower jaw fit together. When your child’s teeth begin to come in, the pediatric dentist can work with you to make sure you and your child know how to properly care for your child’s teeth, including cleaning and good nutrition. Cleft lip/palate can impact your child’s teeth in many ways including the number, size, shape and position of primary (baby) teeth during toddler years and also of the permanent teeth that come in afterwards. Read more about dental and orthodontic treatment