During early pregnancy the upper lip or palate may fail to fuse together resulting in either a cleft lip/palate or both
Dr. John F. Caccamese, Jr. works with an entire pediatric cleft lip and palate team comprised of specialized dentists/orthodontists, pediatricians, pediatric ENT physicians, speech and language pathologists to provide comprehensive care for your child
Cleft lip surgery is usually performed when the child is about 10 weeks old. The goal of surgery is to close the separation, restore muscle function, and provide a normal shape to the mouth. The nostril deformity may be improved as a result of the procedure, or may require a subsequent surgery.
A cleft palate is initially treated with surgery safely when the child is between 7 to 18 months old. This depends upon the individual child and his/her own situation. For example, if the child has other associated health problems, it is likely that the surgery will be delayed.
The major goals of surgery are to:
Close the gap or hole between the roof of the mouth and the nose
Reconnect the muscles that make the palate work
Make the repaired palate long enough so that it can perform its function properly
There are many different techniques that surgeons will use to accomplish these goals. The choice of techniques may vary between surgeons and should be discussed between the parents and the surgeon prior to surgery.
The cleft hard palate is generally repaired between the ages of 8 and 12, when the cuspid teeth begin to develop. The procedure involves placement of bone from the hip into the bony defect, and closure of the communication from the nose to the gum tissue in three layers. It may also be performed in teenagers and adults as an individual procedure, or combined with corrective jaw surgery.
University of Maryland Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates